A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

God Became Man (part two)

A few years ago, it seems like everybody was wearing the little WWJD bracelets. What Would Jesus Do? On the one hand, that’s an ok approach to life –to ask ourselves in any given situation, What would Jesus do?

But, the only way we can really know what Jesus would do is by looking at what He actually did do. And, again, I want to say that I think there are enormous implications for our lives in the way Jesus lived His.

Jesus interacted with sinners all the time. He treated them with dignity and grace. So, how should we treat the neighbor next door with his live in girl-friend? Or the guy at work who is addicted to pornography? Or the mixed up kids with all kinds of garbage going on in their lives? How should we treat people who, in all honesty, are immoral?

How did Jesus treat the woman at the well who had sought intimacy in all the wrong places and had already failed at 5 marriages and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband? How did Jesus Treat the woman caught in the very act of adultery? How did Jesus treat the woman with a bad reputation who inappropriately wept at His feet and tried to dry the ears away with her hair? He loved them. He forgave them. He restored them. He encouraged them to change their lives.

How did Jesus react when His friend Lazarus died and the sisters were grieving? He cried with them. How did Jesus treat the thieving little weasel, Zaccheus? He had lunch in his home with him. How did Jesus show His disciples the importance of serving each other? He washed their feet. What did Jesus do when the crowds yelled “Crucify Him -and the religious leaders lied about him, and the soldiers brutally tortured Him, and people sneered and mocked as His life’s blood drained away? He looked to heaven and said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t understand what they’re doing.”

All of these things, Jesus did, not as almighty God, not as Ruler, not as Creator, not as Lord of All –all of these things Jesus did, fully human. All of these things, and more, Jesus did to teach us and show us. Jesus died to forgive us –but He lived to show us how to live. And since this is why Jesus came, this is what Christmas is really all about.

#by-his-stripes.com #ByHisStripes

Monday, November 28, 2016

2 Corinthians 3:18 "Why God Became Man"

 When God became man –when Jesus was born –He had more in mind than simply providing forgiveness. If forgiveness was all that God wanted, He probably could have found an easier way than dying a brutal, painful death on the cross –He could have found an easier way than taking our sin and our shame and our guilt and our emotional and spiritual baggage onto and into himself. If our forgiveness was all God wanted, I think God would have done things differently.

When Jesus came, it was to provide salvation for mankind –but let’s not ever limit our view of salvation to having our sins forgiven. Our salvation lies in the relationship with God that was made possible when our sins were forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus –but Jesus did more than simply die for our sins and rise again from the dead –Jesus lived. 

He lived a real life. He was born. He lived here among us. He ate food like we eat. He slept when He was tired –and drank water when He was thirsty. He laughed at weddings and cried at funerals. Jesus lived here among us. That means something –there is a reason. God didn’t plan it out that way on a whim.

There is a sense in which Jesus came, not only to be our Savior, but also to be our teacher –our mentor. A good teacher, or a good mentor, not only tells his students what they need to know –a good teacher does whatever it takes to make his students understand. A good teacher shows his students.
Jesus lived a real life among real people. Some of those people, as you remember, loved Jesus a whole lot –others hated Him. Some showered gifts on Him while others plotted to take His life. Sometimes Jesus had plenty to eat –while other times He went hungry. Sometimes Jesus was well rested –at other times He was weary to the bone. If Jesus is our mentor, you see, this stuff all matters a whole lot.

If Jesus lived His life in some kind of secluded bubble –we still wouldn’t know how to act and behave and treat others. But Jesus lived a real life just like ours. So, we actually know how to live the life that God desires –Jesus modeled it –in real life.

  2 Corinthians 3:18   And all of us have had the veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”

#by-his-stripes.com #ByHisStripes

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Matthew 6:9-13 "Praying Like Jesus"

The twelve hand-picked disciples must have learned a lot walking all over Judea with Jesus. One of the things that they learned was that Jesus prayed.

Not that He prayed stuffy, boring prayers –not that He prayed out of a sense of duty or obligation. They'd seen plenty of pharisees and religious people standing on the street corners and in prominent, noticeable places praying those kind of prayers.

But Jesus prayed differently. They noticed that Jesus had an intimacy with God that they had never observed before. And they noticed that whenever Jesus prayed, things happened –God responded. They noticed these things, and they wondered if they might have the same relationship with God that Jesus had –after all, Jesus was their teacher. They wondered if maybe Jesus could teach them to pray like He prayed. 

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gave them this prayer as a model:

‘Our Father in heaven:
May Your holy name be honored;
may Your Kingdom come;
may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done,
as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
Do not bring us to hard testing,
but keep us safe from the Evil One.
For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.'

These are things that we also should pray for and about if we, like the disciples, want to learn to pray like Jesus.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Matthew 5:43-48 "The Law Of Love"

The lines are obvious and the mandate is clear. No gray area here. If we are followers of Jesus, we are citizens of a different Kingdom. The Kingdom of God has one law: LOVE.

In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus said (paraphrased): "You've heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say you should love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.... For if you only love those who love you, how is that any different than everybody else? If you are only loving and kind to your friends and family, aren't you just like the nonbelievers?" The bottom line: If we do not love, we are not truly following Jesus and we are not participating in the Kingdom.

All earthly kingdoms operate by a natural law -almost everyone loves their family; this is natural. All people tend to love their friends; this is natural. But the Kingdom of God is supernatural. There is, therefore, an expectation that citizens of the Kingdom see the wisdom of loving those who do not love us, and embrace the supernatural priorities of the Kingdom.

If we love God and love others, the Kingdom grows and our Father is glorified. We bring glory to Father as we learn to transcend the natural by loving others -even those who do not love us in return - with His love.