Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9

God speaks and planets appear out of nowhere. God pushes galaxies around with the tip of His finger. He breathes over a dead Earth and everything brown turns to lush green. Such unfathomable power, isn’t it? Can this deity be born inside a virgin and emerge as not only the image of God, but God Himself? Jesus said ‘yes’ and this is what got Him crucified. He claimed to be God. Either He was telling the truth and is worthy of my worship or He’s a liar and should have died the death that He got. For much of the world to believe that He’s just a good teacher without choosing sides is a cop out.  Christians are losing their lives because we proclaim that there is only one way to God and it is through Jesus.  We are labeled narrow and exclusive.  But every religion of the world is exclusive by the mere fact that they espouse beliefs within the confines of their label.

The expanse of God can live in a person. Only one person ~ and it was Jesus. God, in Christ, restrained His power with wisdom but when it was unleashed, the dead were raised, storms ceased, and the blind were made to see.

Can I even dare to believe that I have not only been made in God’s image, I am a container for the Spirit of God to live in. All that power, wisdom, peace, holiness….lives in my spirit. Can others see evidence of that? Is His glory visible? Am I bold enough, when prompted, to speak words of healing and truth and trust the power of God to work through me? Perhaps I am shy of it because I have forgotten that I can be possessed by a Spirit. Just as the demoniac was possessed by Satan, I am meant to be overtaken and ruled by the Spirit of God. When that happens, it will be quite evident that I am not my own.  I’m under the influence.  My works of faith will be both glorious and highly controversial.

Help me fully understand what Your incarnation means for me. It’s so loaded with implications and I know I haven’t begun to grasp it. Amen

And Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

God has always been about separating light from darkness.  When Satan rebelled, God expelled him out of heaven and hurled him to earth.  When God created the world, he physically separated the light from darkness.  In John, Jesus revealed that because He was the Light, anyone who embraced Him as their Messiah would not walk in darkness.  Separation, once again.

Before the foundation of the world, Jesus was Light.  That didn’t change at His incarnation.  Whether infant, boy child, or the adult Jesus in full time ministry, He was always the Light of the world. And I know what spiritual light does.  It draws and warms the searching heart but it also exposes and convicts.  I am naive to think that the full ramifications of living as God’s righteous Son only began in His adulthood.  It wouldn’t be long after Jesus’ birth that His righteous gaze saw clear through people, even the souls of His parents.  I sometimes wonder if young Jesus was punished simply because the adults felt exposed by His light.   Guilt and shame often initiate rash acts of revenge.  Jesus’ holiness must have constantly grated against humanity.

Though scripture doesn’t fill in the blanks of Jesus’ childhood, there are things I can safely assume because of who Jesus is.  His light would expose darkness; whether a child, adolescent, or adult.  It would divide child’s play.  It would challenge the rabbis in the temple.  It would pierce the conversations at family gatherings.  Even in holiest times of fellowship, the deception of sin colored others opinions and intentions.  I am to live the life Jesus lived in choosing light and rejecting darkness.  With Him dwelling in me, He enables me to sort one against another.   This spiritually inductive process happens all day long and has the same combustible reactions in a group that Jesus experienced.  From the moment I am set apart for sanctification, His light, in me, draws or offends.

    • Today, I choose my friends wisely.  I know that light and darkness will not live together in harmony.  I am like the Jesus-child who cherished the friendship of other children who were also repelled by life in the shadows of sin.
    • Today, I choose how I’m going to think.  I take hold of a thought, then sort it as a ‘light thought’ or ‘dark thought’.  Is this something Jesus would think or Satan would think?  If it’s a dark thought, I cast it aside.  I am to renounce and affirm the very things Jesus did.  Even in His adolescence.
    • Today, I choose suggestions from others with wisdom.  Not every piece of advice is worthy of my discipleship to Jesus.  Jesus didn’t embrace the leanings of His disciples indiscriminately.  He bathed each decision in prayer.  God’s imperatives trumped man’s logic.

Today, other disciples can lead me in paths of righteousness but not always.  How well I sort out my life and separate light from darkness will depend on how well I know Jesus.   I affirm my worship of the Light of the world, even as the cooing infant in Mary’s arms.

Light is clean, direct, and reveals everything in its path.  Darkness is obscure, tormenting, and hides the path I am to take.  Oh Lord Jesus, I choose Your way.  Amen

Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah.  The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshiping the Lord.  Isaiah 60:6

In the mighty expanse of God’s wisdom, prayers are always answered.  But God’s children, in great need, cannot predict what the answer will look like.  Because our view is limited and our minds are finite, we often struggle with prayer.  We know what it is like when we love someone and how much we desire to alleviate every place of pain in their life.  If we could make things perfect for that person, we would.  All the more reason for us to wrestle with God and to trust Him to give us what is good.  To believe that all His decisions are driven by love requires supernatural faith.

Never were these realities more on display than in the Christmas story.  God provided supernatural clues of His loving-kindness in some instances but left us looking for them in many others.  Like ~ He could have ensured a more comfortable journey to Bethlehem through the generosity of wealthy travelers who felt compassion for a woman about to give birth.

The struggles, and the miracles, in the life of Jesus continued all the way to His resurrection.  We see God’s supply but we also see the restraining hand of God as His Son suffered many things.  In this, our own faith is built.  Can I call Him ‘good’ after a line of hardships and tragedies?

I have seen the miraculous in my life.  So have you.  God showed up in unexpected places with just what I lacked.  I prayed for help and God came swiftly.  I have also prayed and waited a long time for other things before seeing an answer.  I don’t know the reasons why He waited but when He finally did move, I can tell you that it felt like the right time. In the waiting room of prayer, waiting was not my enemy though it felt like it.   God knew the benefits as my spiritual grit was increased, scripture was explored, faith was exercised, patience was learned, and a greater compassion for others was born.

Both you and I have many unanswered prayers today.  God will break through with saving power and redemption for ALL of them.  If not today, then one day. And when He does, we will give thanks that He does all things well.

Lord, I don’t want to be a shallow narcissist.  In whatever ways I languish for You today, we both know it is good.  Amen

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:1-2,5

The theme of waiting saturates the whole redemption story. God waited a long time to send a Savior after the fall of Adam and Eve. Did they look for Jesus after they were banished from the garden? If they understood the prophetic words God spoke over them, they did. They had known the love of the Father in the garden and though the consequences of their sin were staggering, I’ve no doubt they knew that God would come to save.

In their lifetime however, He didn’t come. Though He made a way for their sins to be covered through the sacrifice of innocent animals, it wasn’t the same as a Savior coming to take away their sin and restore them to paradise. In fact, things just got worse. Their descendants saw evil compounded. The god of this world took center stage as He appeared to be the one who controlled everything. Where was God? Where was the promised Savior?

‘How long, O Lord?’ was the cry of the ages. Injustice, suffering, and the havoc created by an enemy who relished destruction  appeared to have the last word as God’s people waited for their Messiah. It appeared that He was late and uncaring. Their lament through the ages filled His ears but so did their well-ordered proclamations of faith. They endured the scourges of many enemies and captivity in Babylon. They saw the destruction of their beautiful temple, waited four hundred more years through an interminable period of silence, and then bent under the weight of Roman rule before Jesus finally came. Their cries for rescue were so desperate that they couldn’t recognize the Miracle when He arrived. Never could they guess that their answer was a sleeping baby in an animal’s cradle.

Today, we are in a new waiting period. Emmanuel came once, stayed a while, but promised that He would come again. Though we saw the mystery unveiled in part at Bethlehem, mankind – and the earth he has destroyed – has not yet been restored to their original condition. Why is God, again, waiting so long to rescue? How can He restrain Himself from coming when evil is rampant upon the earth? The nature of waiting is to have unanswered questions. The challenge of waiting is to find the spiritual grit to make proclamations of faith while we scan the horizon for His appearing.

In every way you might be watching for His salvation this Christmastime, do not let Your trust in God be shaken. Rest in the mystery of His timetable. Grieve – but not without faith. Expect ~ but without a sense of entitlement. Question ~ but not with a fist. History will always reveal that love prevailed in the waiting.

You don’t always come sweeping in to make a grand statement. Many miss the salvation of a Bethlehem moment. Don’t let it be me. Amen

No Wasted Plotline

December 2, 2019

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God, which he promised before hand through the prophets in the holy scriptures. Romans 1:2

Nearly every time Paul gave a defense for the Gospel, he didn’t start with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  Since most of his accusers were Jewish leaders, he was intent on showing them that Jesus was connected to their scriptures, the fulfillment of their law.  The Torah, which they embraced and knew front to back, had predicted his coming.  God was not only the Alpha and Omega, but the God of the in-between.  Nothing was random, nothing was haphazard, but each event in history was a meticulously conceived plan according to the wisdom of a Sovereign God.

Why was this important to the Jews?  Because it’s hard for any of us to completely leave everything familiar and embark on something new.  And it wasn’t necessary where the Jews were concerned though it might have felt like that.  They held the Torah in their hands, the writings of the prophets, the revelation of Jesus Christ.  To believe on Him was to complete their faith, to be as Abraham looking ahead for the Lamb of God and finding Him in Jesus.

God is the consummate storyteller.  The revelation of Jesus in Bethlehem was connected to the plot line in Eden when Adam and Eve sinned.  Everything in between followed God’s storyline.  May I not be like the Jews who failed to recognize Jesus when He stood in front of them.  As He orders the events of my day, I ask for the eyesight to see His fingerprints.

In God’s plotline, there is no such thing as wasted.  Not even our mistakes.  Our lives, like those of our heroes in scripture, are messy and unpredictable.  Though we know the end of their stories, the redemptive twists and turns still take us by surprise.  We are encouraged that God was there in their victories but also still there in the parts of their stories that were less than stellar.  No dark thread is rejected for the finished tapestry.

After all these years, I am beginning to love my storyline because it is woven into Yours.  Amen

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.”  Luke 1:35

My biggest mistake would be to read God’s Word like a storybook and fail to see the stories as personal insights in how God might relate to me.  Can I have a burning bush experience?Can I know a Pentecost moment?  Do men and women still dream dreams and decide, upon waking, that God is sending them a personalized message? Yes.  My faith is not built on history alone but on a present day experience with Jesus Christ.

God’s Spirit hovered over Mary and she conceived.  Nine months later, she gave birth to the Son of God.  This intimate gesture of overshadowing ushered her into her most holy calling as the mother of Jesus.  But the Spirit of God must still overshadow the saints today if they are to give birth to their most holy callings.  There can be no conception of a call without this act of communion.  For years, I thought I was in touch with God’s will for my life, and in fact, I prayed for it earnestly but what was missing was intimacy with God.

Jesus said, “He who believes in me, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”  The word for innermost being in the original language is ‘womb’.  Through every child, God wants to birth something for the kingdom.  Something holy is to proceed from their spiritual womb.  What is it?  There is something about the redemption of our story that is unique.  Out of our individual brokenness, and out of the way He speaks His healing Word to those desolate places, our calling will emerge.  When He reveals it to each of us, it immediately resonates.  Praise, worship, and unspeakable joy are the result; our versions of the Magnificat.

To discover my purpose and to know how to walk in it, I must be intimate.  To transcend the challenges that come with a calling, I must be intimate.  Any kingdom work done without intimacy is powerless.

Overshadow my life.  I am your handmaiden. Amen

The Shaking

November 29, 2019

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:26

It was an earthquake.  The whole mountain, Mt. Sinai, trembled violently when God descended upon it.  The law was given, God spoke, and His power proved that He had ultimate authority.  To have stood at the base of that mountain would have been awe inspiring, even terrifying.  Exodus 19

One day, there will be another shaking.  Haggai 2   God will shake, not just the mountains, but the earth and the heavens combined.  He will end the corrupt power of kings and rulers and establish the reign of His Son, Jesus.  He will also destroy the evil one and all of his demons, the very spirits who worked through every flawed leader to inflict cruelty and corruption. What a day of promise for God’s children and what a day of dread for all those who have rejected the way of salvation and the rule of God in their lives.

Shaking separates.  Shaking reveals what is solid beneath the veneer.  What is pure is left, what is defiled breaks loose.  So it shall be in the end times, and yet, so it is today for any of us who are in a time of trembling.  In God’s sovereignty, suffering has defined our current season of life.  Our world trembles and, with the shaking, the substance at the center of our lives is revealed.  For the one who has planted the seeds of the Word of God in their heart and learned to live in kingdom shoes, faith in God remains. For others, a vast emptiness opens up behind the veneer of religiosity.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your judgments like the deepest sea. O LORD, You preserve man and beast.  Psalm 36:6  Oh, that I would have my world in order!  When I look into the face of Jesus, I tremble with awe.  When I look into the fires of adversity, I tremble with fear, yet also with a faith that sustains.  When I look into the expanse of eternity, I tremble with anticipation.  Evil will be vanquished and the righteous ones will remain in the courts of our God.

Trembling is my opportunity for introspection.  Reveal the substance of my life.  Amen