In this apartment complex, there is little of faith. Most of the kids tell us their fathers are in prison. Many of the others live in a single parent home. Few have a full house with mom and dad.
Here sits L. As she received her first bible, she sat down immediately and began to read. The impact brought me to tears. Living in a community where churches mark every corner, she had never read the stories of the Lord for herself. Her excitement was immediate and active.
The stocking is full of wonderful fruits and nuts and a candy cane. Yet, they mean nothing compared to her joy in receiving the words of God.
L is touching the words of the Lord not just on the page, but in the flesh with those that come to her and teach weekly. She reads the bible on their face and in their hands and expressed from their hearts.
Thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful opportunity to share You with others. I weep at the priviledge to serve.
Our leadership examples today are flawed and full of gaping holes
Matthew 8:1: When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
“Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do–then do it with all your strength.” George Washington
Follow Me: Few people in life seem to be worth following. Honesty is out of style. Truth is irrelevant. Integrity wanes to the way of the world. Our leadership examples today are flawed and full of gaping holes. Jesus is worth following. Not only that, but He changes us to be worth following. His example and presence change us to be more like Him. Follow.
Follow Jesus:Jake was ready to follow this Jesus again. The morning back in the presence of God at church had impacted him. He wasn’t sure how to explain his feelings to his wife or to his old friend, Greg, or to Sally, who had invited him. He just knew he needed to get back in line and follow. Whatever that meant! He was going to find out…..
Act! Be worth following. It was his confidence, authority, and kindness that resulted in so many following. Find a place to be kind today and reach out to someone who can’t help themselves at the moment.
Pray!Father, help me to be a leader worth following. It is my example to which others look. Help me to be the Christian of integrity that You seek. Encourage my faith to be bold in those areas in which you have commissioned me. Empower me to continue to do good to those around me in You. Let people see Jesus and follow Him in me.
There is a place in Jesus where we can just sit right down and not worry about anything.
Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
A Place To Rest: Forgiveness feels good. When we meet the release of guilt, we relax. That is purposeful. In Jesus, we find a place to relax. Yes, He can be a place as much as our friend and God. There is a place in Jesus where we can just sit right down and not worry about anything. The past dissipates. The pain of mistakes subsides. We lay our head in His lap and great heaves of breath take away the memories. Remember to be the same for others in Him.
Character Meets Greg: Attitude had always been important to Greg. As he thought of the character traits he’d like to see in the new team member, forgiveness came to the front. This was a tough assignment for someone. There were years of resistance to the project the team was pursuing. Tempers would flare. People would be upset. This new member needed to bring some forgiveness with them. As much as they would need excellent technical and communication skills, they needed a keen attitude of not taking up grievances and not holding grudges. Greg went back to prayer.
This devotion is #3 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.
ACT! Sit down with Jesus for a moment. Just enjoy not being guilty.
PRAY!Father of Forgiveness, it just feels wonderful to be with You. Sitting at Your right hand with Jesus is a wonderful place of release. So many times, Father, I can get caught up in the press of the day and the pursuit of power and accomplishment. Help me get caught up in You. Help me get caught up in Your wonderful presence in which there is nothing but joy.
Matthew 5: 39: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40: And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41: And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Going the extra mile for others is the essence of long suffering. Suffering is quiet. To suffer means to allow. Long suffering means to allow for a long time. Jesus defines it even further. He looks for opportunity to suffer, to allow others to use Him and His resources. Jesus is absolutely bent on being used by others. The quest for Him is not about what others ask of Him, but about how He can offer beyond the asking.
Jack’s Pain: Working with a team that was split on commitment was tough. Each had valid points. Each was entrenched in opposite directions. Long suffering was tested. The division had been ongoing in the company for six years and then some. Jack decided to be the walking mat. Someone had to let others “take advantage” to gain some trust and ground. It was tough, but over time some of the animosities began to turn into friendships. He was hopeful to really seem some team progress. This last meeting had been half the team directing criticisms at his area. Not much was founded in present reality, but at least they were venting openly instead of behind his back. There was hope.
ACT! Who is asking for a piece of you or your time? What can you do that goes beyond the asking? Do it.
PRAY! Holy, Gracious Father, the light and love of Jesus are beyond me. When I ask, He does more. When I impose, He expands the request to more. It seems I cannot put more demand than He can answer. Help me to suffer-long with others, Father. Help me to be like Jesus and go the extra mile with a smile.
Matthew 4: 18: And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19: And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Peter and Andrew were never the same after meeting Jesus. His nature as a gatherer of men for His Father’s family became their nature. He took a part of them and changed it to work for the kingdom. They gathered fish. He needed men gatherers. Meeting Jesus will change you to gather men and women and children to Him and His Father’s family. No matter what you gather now, He will add gathering men to His family.
My son and I were at the quick gas spot the other evening. A furtive man jumped from behind the car. Assuring us he only wanted to beg some money, he approached. I signaled to him to stay at a distance. This was not the time and place.
The next day, a half a block a way, we went to lunch with my wife. The man slipped from behind a car. I engaged him in conversation as my wife and son went into the restaurant. On the streets over time, I have talked to many such men. Some are harmless. Some are dangerous. Some are unpredictable. This one seemed the latter. He was desperate, either on drugs or suffering from having none, and persistent. Eye to eye, we talked. He began to give me a string of problems and diseases. Mid course, I stopped him and asked him what he was doing with what he was given. He told me he worked painting and then quit in the last seven days. He had already spent the money. It would have been enough for several days in his lifestyle.
He was quick witted. He was strong. He was trapped in somebody done me wrong songs. It would be pitiful to give him a dollar and say the inevitable Jesus loves you stuff. I gave him a few dollars, and I gave him straight advice. Sure, Jesus is my motivation. Do something with what you have. Take your mind and body and put it to work. Quit dwelling on the problems and get focused on the solution. People are helping. Use their help to get up and out. Let Jesus pull you from the sea of problems through His fishermen. Don’t just jump back in the water.
ACT! Think of one person around you that needs to be gathered to Jesus’ family.
What do you need to do to invite them to be a part?
PRAY! Father, help me to be a fisher of men. Jesus has come to my life. He’s met with me and called me to be a fisherman with Him. Help me to see those around me that He wants in the family. Help me to know how to draw them to Him and Your family.
Matthew 4: 2: And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
There is a fallacy in meeting Jesus that bears great correction. At times we approach Him as if He had some special advantage while He lived in that body born of Mary. Jesus was fully human. He got really hungry. He dealt with conflicting emotions. He lived as a human equipped with the Spirit of God even as He asks us to live.
In being human, Jesus sanctified humanity. He made it okay to be fully human. He made it a good thing to be all the human we could be, to live up to our human potential – with God. Remember, while being fully human, He was fully God. Our task is to work on being fully human, with God.
Being fully human, for us means being full of mistakes. Being fully human, means being able to correct those mistakes. Today I had a great opportunity to change my mistakes. A co-worker was upset with me about my actions. I had presumed what I did was okay with him instead of asking. It was okay. If I asked. Not asking was presumptive. It was inconsiderate. By repenting and asking, my mistake was changed to okay. He gave me that grace. It was good. Jesus helped me be human.
ACT! Think of your most human moment this week. Thank God for making you a human.
PRAY! Father, thanks for making me a human like Jesus. It must be really special to you, this human thing. You sent Your own Son to be one, just to make it special. Wow! I really don’t deserve it, but I really appreciate it. Thanks.
Matthew 3: 7: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
John’s preparatory help is worth really reviewing. Fruit inspection is worth our time. Fruit inspection should best be done by us. Fruit inspection should best be done on us. John noted some tough untended stuff in these leaders because they were standing in the way of others meeting Jesus with their bad fruit. Hopefully, we do enough personal inspection that God doesn’t have to resort to outside help to get our attention.
ACT! Take a little time to inspect and prune. What in your life is preventing someone from seeing the real Jesus inside of you? Can you cut it off?
PRAY! Father, when I meet Jesus, He is so gentle, yet so true to the point. Help me to be honest before You inspecting my attitudes and life. Help me be a preparer of the way to Jesus, like John instead of being a hindrance to the way like the leaders in this story. I open myself to Your Holy Spirit for inspection and pruning to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
Matthew 1: 2: Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
Jesus comes from the line of Abraham. Abraham was a giver of life. Abraham turned faith into a lineage of ability and more life. Abraham was an investor in the future. His sights were always set forward.
Meeting Jesus means meeting the future. He is future focused. He intends to begat. He intends to birth new life, new dreams, new ways, and new opportunities for you.
ACT! Take that dream of yours. Think of who else could be involved. Give them the opportunity to be a part.
PRAY! Gracious Father of Life, Jesus challenges me to be like You. You are a Father. Abraham got his ways from You, the Father of fathers. Teach me to birth newness through others
In 2001 it impressed me to spend some time every day answering this question, “What would be my impression if I met Jesus doing what Matthew recorded?” Well, there are over 400 devotions that came from that adventure. You will be able to access them over time on this site. Thank, Brandon. He is a new friend, who asked me about the series. So I am putting them here for him and others who really want to Meet Jesus .
Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and mywhole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure. ESV
That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous;
yes, my whole body will rest in safety CEV
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure NIV
Every so often, you will find a verse in the original language that defies exact matching translation from different eras and interpretive groups. This one fits that description. Many times, it is because an idiomatic phrase is contained or there is such emotion and expression, it is hard to put into a single phrase. So let me expand this one.
My heart is glad and celebrates in great joy. With my whole being inside and out, I am excited and alive; my tongue must shout and declare this joy. It cannot be contained or restrained. A great sense of peace and restfulness and security envelops my body and mind and spirit. Phil’s version
Now, that is a picture of great health and well being. That is a picture of restful trust in God and God alone. That is a picture of one that has wrestled with God and found Him to be more interested in securing our hearts that controlling our actions. That is a picture of one, who has encountered fierce angers and pains and problems and illness and has come through to a new realization that the presence and leading of the Father brings us to refreshing and rest. That is a wonderful picture.
Entering in to health many times is preceded by great struggle and pain. Our habits become acclimated to the struggle. Our daily routines become expectant of the pain. A friend going through back surgery shared some of her story. The doctors instructed her that ghost pain would continue for some time. Though the surgery is successful and removes even some nerve endings, our minds are trained to find pain at times of day and particular motions. The pain is not there physiologically. Yet, the pain is there in our minds. The conditioning of ill health forms a barrier even when we are healed to enjoying the new freedom.
Breaking Conditional Barriers
In my own experience, I find it difficult to rest after an intense time of development of a business thrust or a strained season with a client. Though the situation is ended and the issues are resolved, my daily expectation of another problem wrestles with my restfulness. A wise executive once commented to me, “Even when we receive a new and different and positive answer, we hear the old negative one that is so common.” He did not say it just like that, but you get the point.
There must be a time of “glory rejoicing” to break the conditional barriers of ill health and negative situations. Celebrate. This unspeakable joy works internally for us to remove scar tissues and sensitive nerves of mind and will and emotion and body. Then we can receive the new and positive situation and answer. This transition must happen. It is a barrier breaker.
Returns at Customer Service
Discount retailers dedicate a large area for returned and damaged merchandise. It is not a happy place. There is not a lot of smiling for anyone. When you find a smiling employee working that area, your frustration is defused at having to come back to the store. The transaction becomes more pleasant. That employee is giving a rejoicing to a healing situation. The item is broken. You are receiving a replacement. That should be joyful. Yet, you lost value when you tried to use it at home and it broke. You lost positive expectation and trust. Now, the item and positive expectation must return before you can get full value.
Broken bones and aching hearts and rent emotions and lingering illness in our body cause us to lose positive expectation and trust in God. We expect nothing. Worse than that, we expect bad. We expect anger and frustration and continuance of a wrong situation. And we get what we expect until we expectantly express ourselves into a different result after the new answer of health and healing and restoration and replacement is received.
Father, there is a great life available through You and Your presence and Your word.
You are life.
You are healing.
You are “Yes” to all Your promises.
You are “Amen” to all Your commitments.
Cause rejoicing to resound in the camp of my heart. Let me release the joy of the moment that heals and conditions me to hear, “Yes, you are healed.”
Walk with me today, Father, as You heal negative expectation built on real experience with tough living. Let joys restore a new hearing and receptivity to my full health.