Need A Quiet Moment, Friend?

Isaiah 8:18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me.
As a businessman and community leader, I spend countless hours seeking audience with people. It is a tough and thankless task.
Jesus presents us to His Father as a gift. He makes it easy to get into the very throneroom of God. Through tremendous sacrifice, He opened a path for us into the presence of the holiest God. Then He takes us by the hand and walks us up to the Creator of All and presents us.
There is nothing we can do to earn that presentation. It is a gift to us received in Him.
That simple knowledge comforts me. The ability to quiet myself and know I don’t have to earn anything consoles me. I can rest in His acceptance and favor.
Friend, there is rest for you. There is favor for you.
Father, accept my friend alongside Your Son, Jesus. What a joy to know You will receive us. The Master of All opens His inner office to allow us entrance and audience. That is huge. Thanks, Father.
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Meet Jesus : Light of the World Matthew 5:13

Matthew 5: 13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

What does it mean to be the light of the world?  Connection to Jesus means we become the light of the world.  Connection to Jesus means we are a part of a city on a hill that cannot be hid.  It is not us individually to whom He speaks.  It is us, the City of God, the people of God, to whom He speaks.  Together in Him, we are the light of the world.  Our world is dark.  Our world is pained.  Our world is putrid.  Get it straight.  This world is full of shadows.  It is wrong because it is disconnected from the light.  Jesus came and spoke to the world to change to a different way of thinking.  He spoke for this world to think light not dark.  When we connect with Him we connect with a message of light.  Together, the body of Christ, is meant to shine a light on problems.  It is meant to shine solutions for our metro.  This city to which we are attached is full of solutions for others to see and grasp and join.

Of course, you may pay a high price.  Businesses and government and education are afraid of Christianity.  They have been put in fearful positions by those opposed, who have sought limitation in the name of liberation.  Choices have to be made.  Promotions will be lost.  Contracts will not close.  There are costs to being affiliated with Christ.  Do it.  Pay the price.  Carry your cross.  Better to shine a light in a dark world knowing some will be blessed and released from pain than to hide it under fear and intimidation and leave others to suffer knowingly.

ACT! Shine a light.  It is so easy to not be like Christ.  It is so easy to skip praying over a meal in public.  It is so easy to just not mention your friends and relationships in Christ.  When conversation at lunch turns to others talking about movies and shows and new homes and kids in school, how do you talk?  Are you free to mention your friends in Christ?  Are you open to talk about a great sermon you heard or a meaningful worship service that stirred your soul? Can you mention the peace you have in personal relationship?  Do you have the courage?  Are you willing to be seen connected to the city on the hill?

PRAY! Padre Precioso, Precious Father, I am committed to join the city and be known as joined to the city.  It is risky.  It is risky to be known.  Even according to Your word, it can bring persecution.  It can bring misunderstanding.  It can bring dissension.  But, Father, I am committed to be known by Your name.  Let me not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls us to live as light in a dark world.  Let me not be ashamed of the name of Jesus.  Let me not be ashamed.  Let not my enemies of my world, my flesh, and the devil triumph over me.

Meet Jesus : Life’s Flavoring Matthew 5:13

meetjesussaltyMatthew 5: 13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Be Salty: Jesus is a challenge to my life. Meeting Him in the early morning hours means letting Him prod into parts of my life that sometimes I would rather hide. But I know His salt is good and will flavor my life. I know His light is kind and will dispel darkness in my life. Then I become the salt. Then I become the light of Jesus.a

Calling someone salty is not always a compliment.  It is a term used to describe a somewhat irritating person with a lean toward sarcasm.  That is not the saltiness for us.  We need savory salt.  The kind that makes a person want more not less.

Shiny Shoes: As I shined my shoes for tomorrow, it reminded me of an encounter on the streets of Chicago.  A street vendor came up and buffed my shoes with some concoction.  None of that mattered.  It just mattered to me to look into his eyes and challenge him to a life more fully lived in Christ.  He talked about his upbringing and challenges of living on the streets with a yearning for more.  It was a simple conversation and his decisions are his to make.  Another vendor had attempted the same in New Orleans some time back, but I had no thought of challenging him at the time.  Sometimes, I wonder, “What is the difference?”  Why do I speak at one time and hold at another?  I’d like to think it is sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, but most times when I don’t speak it is sensitivity to the people around me.  My candle gets a bushel plopped on top.

ACT! Spread a little salt today. Talk about Jesus.  First, think about Him.  What is it that challenges your life that exists in His life?

PRAY! Holy Father of love and light. Flavor my life with Jesus today so that I might flavor the lives of others with Jesus. He is so precious, so kind, so alive.  So many times, I fail to acknowledge You to others.  So many times I put the bushel over the light.  Pierce through me so that salt can’t be masked.  Flow through me so that the light comes out through the cracks in my fearful bushel.  Teach me, Lord.  Let the salt of Your word embed in my makeup.

Meet Jesus: The Walk of Persecution Matthew 5:10

meetjesushealerMatthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, … 10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Walk: To walk with Jesus links us with persecution and suffering.  His walk on earth was full of many sorrows.  Some of those were the normal sorrows all of us endure such as loss of family members, friends being sick and just normal stuff.  Some of those sorrows were persecutions from friends and trusted people and strangers.  One of His greatest persecutors was the religious leaders of the day.  These were men dedicated to God.  These were men, whom the Father worked with daily to grow understanding.  These should have been friends of Jesus and the message He brought.  His message was a fulfillment of thousands of years of promises.  These very people turned on the God they worshipped and persecuted Him.  We are joined to that persecution when we are joined to Him.

Brian’s Exchange: The exchange was painful.  Brian had worked for this company for four years.  He had put in countless weekends and nights.  Calls came at all hours of the day.  Last year, his direct reporting structure had changed.  This new vice president was different.  During his annual review, Brian had gotten two messages.  1. Prayer has no place at work.  2.  You need to be less involved outside of work.  The company doesn’t like it.

Why a Problem Now?  This had never been a problem before.  For years he had been active in the faith community as a volunteer.  Now, his personal life was being attacked by his work management.  There was nothing active at the work place other than visiting with folks over break and lunch.  The attack was devastating.  He really had no experience to compare with this.  The hardest part was that the organization purported to the public to be linked to a large Southern denomination.  To the employees behind the scenes it was something different.

ACT!  How do you return blessing for cursing when you are persecuted?  Scripture tells us to bless those that persecute us.  Have you ever been in the situation of real persecution for your faith?  Think of a way to bless those that persecute you for your faith.

PRAY!   Father, persecution from anyone is hard.  Persecution from those from whom we expect blessing is super hard.  How do we survive?  How do we handle it?  How do we continue in good works even in the middle of the mess?  Teach us, Father.  Show us the path of Christ.  Show us how to reach out and continue to spread the gospel when the environment is hard.  Teach us to pray and bless over those that persecute that they might get connected with Christ themselves.  Help those that persecute us to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened.  Help them to see.  Help them to engage love in all they do.  Bless them abundantly.

 

Meet Jesus: Poor in Spirit Matthew 5:1

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

 Poor by Choice: For Jesus, there is a route to blessing that is markedly different than our thoughts.  The poor in spirit are those who purposefully humble themselves in relation to God.  These are those that rightly discern their poverty in relation to a great God over all the earth.  They do not pursue arguing with God, because they acknowledge Him as above and themselves as below.  Jesus is that way.  He confirmed that He only said what His Father told Him and only did what His Father instructed in the gospel of John.  He was one that did not consider it something to grab hold and keep to be equal with God, but humbled Himself in relation to the Father and became a man.  He exampled poor in spirit for us to see.

 One Family’s Test:  A situation comes to mind as I ponder this scripture.  One family came to me rocked with enigmas. Questions about life and death and healing and answers to prayer were coming with forcefulness.  Like all of us they faced a reality they did not want to face. The person had died.  This mother of four had her life cut short.  How could God allow such a thing?   Why did He not do as we imagined and simply grant a request for healing here on earth?  Did the scripture not say we could have whatever we willed?  Surely God must do what we ask?

These are all valid questions that seem to have no answers.

 The second question posed stronger.  What did God want us to do today?  Regardless of our understanding or lack of understanding of the situation at hand, what did He want us to do now?  Now that this mother and grandmother was gone, what was to be our walk in the kingdom of heaven this day?   Do we quit praying and believing?  Do we continue in prayer?  If He did not heal here and now would He hear our prayers for peace of mind and acceptance of a life without our lifelong friend? On the flip side of the coin, could we experience more of His kingdom by giving Him the benefit of our doubt or by doubting His benefit?

 Answers: It is tough stuff, but the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. Life requires us to relinquish our rights and demands and allow the wisdom and the hand of God to play out.  A heart of Jesus leads us to absorb the pains and confusions and admit we just don’t know all the answers, yet we will trust Him.  In the beginning of the new life with a loved one gone, this family chose to continue in trust with questions unanswered.  Sometimes that is all we can do.  It requires making a choice to be poor in spirit and large in faith.

 ACT!  Can you lay down your understanding and demands to find the newer will of God for your walk in the kingdom?  What does it take to become one poor in spirit and committed to His will being done on earth as it is in heaven, unquestioningly?  Test Him out.  Volunteer your ideas for His.

PRAY! God, You are God.  Me, I’m just me.  You are the greatest God of life and living.  The answers I don’t understand, You create.  Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.  When I just about figure out life, You are bigger and greater than my wisdoms.   Teach me to obey.  Teach me to walk close to Your breathing.  Teach me to walk in Your ways even when I do not understand.  Then You will open new wisdoms for me.  Then You will open the windows of understanding on the other side of obedience.

Meet Jesus : Cure All Matthew 4:24

meetjesuscureMatthew 4: 24: And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

 Years ago, the traveling salesman would present a “cure all.”  Take this and whatever ailed you would go away.  The problem with it was that it didn’t work.  Cod liver oil can just do so much.  Epsom salts will melt the ice and cleanse your system, but it won’t heal your heart.  Aspirin will thin your blood, and alleviate a fever, and back off headaches, but it won’t cast out demons.

Jesus does it all.  Meet Jesus, and you meet the answer.  He is a cure all.

Turning 30 with 20 years of experience was fun for Phil.   This was great.  At 50, he felt physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally at the top of his life.  How many people could say that?  He had watched so many friends reach 50 depleted and at the end of their game.  Here he was at the end of a year of great stress at the top of his game.  This Jesus stuff works.  He contemplated the day all day.  Everyone should have this opportunity.  After all, Moses had felt this way at 120, why not feel this way at 30 with 20 years experience.

 ACT! What is bothering you that just seems to defy resolution?  Give it to Jesus and let Him begin His healing process.

 PRAY! Father of Love and Laughter, open me up and do surgery on my expectations.  Jesus cures it all.  Give me dancing for my mourning.  Give me praise for my heaviness.  Give me beauty for my ashes.  Fill me my cup with Jesus, and I will overflow.

Meet Jesus: Preacher Matthew 4:23

meetjesusshout

Matthew 4: 23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

 Preaching the gospel of the kingdom was a continual activity for Jesus.  Throughout the gospels we meet Jesus, the Preacher.  He preached good news.  He preached with conviction.  When I think of preaching, I think of someone passionate about whom they are, what they say, and their mission and message.  Passionately speaking good news is a great description of Jesus.

Preaching is so much fun for me.  Yes, it is pensive.  Yes, it is work and takes great preparation.  Yes, it is sometimes a frustration when the message does not seem to get across.  But, preaching is great fun for me.  It is the fulfillment of call and passion expressed all at once.  Seeing people come alive with the gospel through an illustration or comparison is wonderful fun.

We ought to have fun doing what we are made to do.  God made me to be a preacher.  This devotion is a preaching of sorts.  When it hits home with people, I come alive and thank my Father for His faithfulness.  Seeing someone do what they were born to do is so much fun.  Do what you were made to do.

ACT!  Think on something about which you have passion and conviction.  Does it make your blood stir up?  Jesus gets stirred up about you being in His family.

PRAY!  Father, thanks so much that Jesus gets stirred up about the good news that I can be a member of Your family.  I am so excited about being in the kingdom, in the family of God.  Stir in me that same passion and conviction that others might be able to meet the same Jesus, the Preacher, whom I know.  In me, light the fire to fulfill my call.  That for which You have made me make alive in me.  I commit myself to it.  I joy myself to do it.