Pilate

Today’s reading is from John 18:28-19:16.

Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judea. After Jesus was captured by the Jewish leaders  for claiming he was the Messiah he was put on trial before Caiaphas. Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate to be crucified because any death sentence had to be approved by a Roman leader.  Pilate tried to avoid executing Jesus. He made attempts at sparing Jesus life.

First he tried to put the responsibility back on the Jewish leaders. In John 18:31 Pilate says, “Then take him away and judge him by your own laws”. But the Jewish leaders quickly reminded him that only the Romans are permitted to execute someone. Next he tried to find a way of escape so he could release Jesus. In John 18:39 he offered to release Jesus as it was a custom to release a prisoner at Passover. The Jews chose to release Barabbas (a known criminal) instead of Jesus. From there he tried to compromise by having Jesus flogged and humiliated rather than handing him over to die in John 19:1-3. Lastly he tried to appeal to the sympathy of the accusers in John 19:15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him – crucify him!” “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.” In the end, even though he thought Jesus to be innocent, he sentenced him to death because the crowd was so loud.

John 19:16 “Then Pilate gave Jesus to them to be crucified”

Pilate stated 3 times to the crowd that he found Jesus to be innocent. (John 18:38, John 19:4, and John 19:6). He recognized the truth but he failed to act on it which led to Jesus crucifixion. He was so worried about the politics involved that he missed Jesus all together.

I am so thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Where am I recognizing the truth about Jesus but failing to take action? Where am I missing Jesus?

Shelly

Lazarus ” אלעזר” “God has helped”

Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John record many miracles that were performed by Jesus. These gospels have just a small fraction of what and who Jesus healed and touched before his earthly death.  Still today, we can hear, see, and feel Jesus’s hand in our miracles and the miracles of others.  Today, we get to read about life after death for Lazarus in John 11:1-45. One of his last earthly miracles that really sent the religious leaders into a panic demanding Jesus’s death.

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 

Reading through this miracle of bringing someone back to life after four days is unbelievable.  It is only God possible. He had brought a couple of others back to life, but not after four days! This story also leaves me with some gut-check questions as I read through the scriptures.  Think about these questions with me.

  1. Who do you go to when you need extraordinary help? Do you rely on your personal strength or strength of man or? Do you rely upon  Jesus?              (Further Reading Psalm 3)
  2. How do we respond to adversity? Is it a grumble, complain, or blame? Or do we glorify His name in everything? ( But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

( 2 Corinthians  1:4 )  5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too

3. Are you walking in the dark or light? What do your choices look like? Are we trusting in His timing? 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

4. Lazarus was dead to the physical world. The first word Lazarus heard was Jesus telling him to, “come forth”. When we physically die,  will the first person we hear be Jesus? Will you “come forth?”

Dear Heavenly Father thank you for the stories of your love, grace, and truth.  Help us to walk in the light, trust you in the face of adversity,   This heart-breaking story was all part of your plan. We love you and just ask for you to keep us in your light.  In your name, we pray. Amen

 

 

Where are your accusers?

The Adulterous Woman

John 8: 1-11

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

John gives us an example of Jesus’ love and compassion without too much action or commentary. The story is that of a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery.  From the previous chapter, the scribes and the leaders are trying to find a way to falsely accuse Jesus to get him to be executed.  While they are trying to find something on Christ, they find this woman who is guilty of adultery.   In Deuteronomy 22:22-30, the law that was given shows the “proper” way that the situation of the unlawful act should be handled, but the leaders are trying to use their intelligence to outwit Jesus.  Fortunately, Christ is able to use his peace and calmness to stop the confusion and calamity of the crowd and restore the woman to her whole self.

As we look at this particular situation, we can see it in a different manner.  We are the adulterous woman and we are presented to Jesus.  How many times have we been presented to Christ or gone to him with our shortcoming and sins?  How many times have we been presented with situations that we believe that we have created and Jesus will not save us from? How many times have we held our heads in shame in the presence of Jesus and we stop him from comforting us? Jesus is the only on that can judge us and make us whole.  He knows all the sins and obstacles that we allow the enemy to use to stop us from being close to him.  He knew the woman before she was presented to the crowd.  He knew each sin that she has ever committed (from the oldest to the newest). He knows all the things that makes us vulnerable and knows that the enemy will use these to stop us from getting close to Jesus and allowing him to heal our being.  What are the sins that are hold you and me back from the true love and compassion of Christ?

A little further in the chapter, Jesus states that he alone cannot make judgment on individuals, but he and the Father together can make judgment.  Jesus chooses to forgive us when we are submitted to his divine grace in spite of the sins that we have committed in the past and present.  He sees us without anyone to condemn us.

The Samaritan Woman

Jesus is waiting for you to come.  He is sitting, waiting.

Have you ever had to wait for someone?  Did you know they were coming?  My chauffeuring days are over, but I can vividly remember the years of dropping off and waiting on my children at one of their activities.  The longest wait was always the pick-up line after school.  You either had to get their super early to get a good spot in the front or be late and avoid the line.  My kids always let me know that they hated to be the last to be picked up.  So, I was always in the first 10 cars of the line, waiting patiently (20+ minutes) for them to walk out of the school.  But why did I sit there that long each and every day of the school year?  Because my most beloved children were going to be walking out of those doors and I wanted to be there to greet them each and every day.  I love them so much that I would sit and wait patiently for them each and every single day.  

Today in our reading of the Samaritan woman, John 4:1-42, we see Jesus, sitting, waiting.  I do not believe it was coincidence that Jesus was sitting at the side of the well when the Samaritan woman showed up to get her daily water.  Jesus knew she would be coming at that time.  A time when the well was empty of people, she did not want to be around others for she was ashamed.  Ashamed of her past and who she was.  

Can you imagine the face of Jesus as she walked up to the well?  As He was waiting for her, he probably smiled knowing that He was going to offer her her true hope and life.  He knew everything about her already.  He knew she had 5 husbands and was living with a man whom she was not married.  He knew she was a Samaritan.  

The Samaritans had once been Jews, they knew all about the coming Messiah and the Jewish law.  But, they had intermarried with people of other faiths.  They had brought new gods into their land, and as a result, they knew that they would be excluded when the Messiah came.  They also knew where they stood in the eyes of the Jews. 

All of the above matters made it even more unbelievable to the woman that this Jewish man sitting on the side of the well would speak to her.  

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 

John 4:7

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?”  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 the living water.”  Because she was not a jew, she knew that salvation would not be coming for her.  That was, until this moment in time, when Jesus spoke to her.

Jesus told her about all that was going on in her home.  He spoke to her about all that was heavy on her heart, all of her shame, he knew.  At this moment she knew he was different.  How did he know so much about her?  How did He know exactly what she needed to hear? 

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming-the one who is called Christ.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus tole her, “I Am the Messiah!”

John 4:25&26

As soon as the Samaritan woman hears these words, she leaves her jar of water and runs back to the town to tell the people everything that she just experienced.

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!  Could he possibly be the Messiah?”  So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

John 4:29&30

The whole village came to see what she was speaking of.  She did not hesitate and was not afraid to tell what had just happened at the well.  And because she shared her story, others came to check out Jesus and see what He was really about.  When they met Jesus they asked him to stay in their village, and he did so he could tell His message and more could believe.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves.  Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:42

This is our calling!  Not to make others believe, but to tell of what we have experienced with Jesus.  To tell our story of what He has done for us.  Then let Jesus minister to them and so that they will know He is the Savior of the world.  

Jesus is waiting on us to come to Him.  He sees each of us coming and is waiting.  We may not have to walk to a well to get water, but we have so many tasks we have to complete in a day.  Maybe it is walking to the washing machine to put in another load of laundry.  Maybe it is walking from the parking lot into our building where we work or go to school.  God is right in front of us waiting for us to come to Him.  He knows all of our past and shame.  But, just as He did with the Samaritan woman, he looks past it and wants to offer His love and Salvation.  Then He wants us to share our story!

 

Nicodemus

Today’s reading is on Nicodemus in John 3:1-21.

Do you remember when you first wanted to give your life to Christ? For some of you, it may have been when you were a very young child, introduced to the Gospel by family. For some, it may have been first going off into the world on your own and discovering meaning in life through God. For others, maybe later in life, after experiencing many things, the decision to follow Christ made more and more sense. Either way, chances are it was not spontaneous. You most likely didn’t go your whole life without knowing a thing about God, then one day waking up and thinking “hey, you know what, I feel like devoting my life to Christ today.” It doesn’t really work that way – the decision comes naturally after beginning a personal relationship with God and His moving in your heart.

Enter Nicodemus, a Pharisee seated on the Sanhedrin, high council in charge of the law of Jerusalem. While Jesus is in Jerusalem, Nicodemus comes at night to ask the Messiah he’s heard of about who He is. Jesus gets right to the point and confronts him about how to enter the Kingdom of God. To Jews of this time, the idea of being “born again” is entirely new – they were part of God’s people simply because of their ancestry, entering into Heaven on merit of their heritage. But Jesus flips this idea on its head – entry to the Kingdom is not decided by who you were born to, but by who you give your life to instead.

Scripture makes sure we know the importance of baptism. In Acts 2, Peter says “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Titus 3: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Through our spiritual death and rebirth, we declare ourselves dedicated to the Lord, renewed and saved through His grace. The most miraculous thing about it is anyone can choose to do so and give their life to Christ, Jewish or not. We can never predict how or when God moves in someone to make them want to decide this, but when he does, how could we do anything but fall to our knees and surrender to Him? The way Jesus explains why we would make this choice is surely one of the most known Scriptures for good reason. John 3:16-18 reads:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Nicodemus hears why we choose to cast off our old life and accept spiritual death and rebirth in God’s Kingdom – His love. God’s love is more sacrificial, enduring, and rewarding than any other. It is this love that sent Jesus to live among us, that sent Him to die on the cross, and now seats Him at the right hand of the Father. This same love will always be, from now until the end of time. This love is available to anyone – those who have not yet believed but are moved by the Spirit will always be welcome in God’s loving arms. Someone today needs the news of this loving God, who will always love and never forsake those who trust Him: share this good news today with me. The world needs love now more than ever, and only God can provide the love we need for all.

Nathanael

Today’s reading is John 1:43-2:11 and John 21:1-13 as we look closely at one of the twelve disciples in Nathanael.

You may recall Nathanael, who was from Cana in Galilee, was asked by Philip to “Come and see” Jesus of Nazareth saying He was the Messiah they have long awaited. However, Nathanael doubted saying in John 2:45, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” However, with Philip’s prompting..he went. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asks Jesus how He knows him, and Jesus reveals his omnipresence by saying He saw Nathanael under the fig tree before Philip called him. From there, Nathanael stated He believed. Jesus goes on to tell Nathanael that this is just the beginning of what he will see.

Aren’t many of us like Nathanael in that we need someone like Philip in our lives to say, “Hey…why don’t you come to church with me sometime…” or “Want to join me for small group?” Most Christians come to faith because they are asked by someone else to come learn more about God. Then, God reveals to them through His Word and prayer, and in their hearts, that He’s been there all along when they didn’t even realize it. They begin to trust in the words of Psalm 139:13-18..

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

God also reveals that He sees good in them despite their past failures and wrong doing just like He tells Nathanael He sees no deceit in him. They understand the truth of Psalm 103:10-13…

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

I would venture to say it’s highly unlikely that Nathanael had never done anything deceitful in his life. However, Jesus tells Nathanael how He sees Him which is different than anyone else and different than Nathanael likely even sees himself.

A few weeks ago, I scolded our 2-year-old for repeatedly disobeying as we were brushing his teeth and getting him ready for bed, and he went to sleep crying. Afterwards, I started feeling bad about it wondering if I was a little too stern and if he would even be upset with me when He woke up the next day. Would he remember his unhappiness with me when He woke up? I was a little sad as I wondered if He would send me off to work with the same hug and words of “Bye-Bye, Daddy..love you!” Guess what….when He woke up the next day He came running into the bathroom where I was getting ready, smiling and excited to see me giving me a big hug. A smile instantly came on my face with me giving thanks to God not only for this moment with my son and for him not being upset with me, but also for revealing that this is the same way He sees my sins. Instantly the verses from Lamentations 3:22-23 came to mind..

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Thank you, God, for your new mercies every morning.

I found it also very interesting that in John 1:49 Nathanael says Jesus is the Son of God and believes. However, in John 1:11 after Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana the disciples (and we can assume Nathanael was there since He was from Cana and this was immediately following his calling), it says, “His disciples believed in Him.” Later, in our verses from John 21 it says this was the 3rd time Jesus revealed Himself to them after His Resurrection. Did they not believe before? Nathanael said he believed Jesus right after meeting him. God knows we have a short- term memory and need affirmations almost daily. When we stay close to Him through prayer and His Word, as they did by being with Him at the wedding and continuing to follow Him, and stay close with fellow believers through church and small group, as they did by staying together after His death and fishing together here in these verses, He will continue to re-affirm His promises and presence in our daily lives. If we don’t stay close to Him in these ways through prayer, His Word, and fellowship with other believers, we may miss Him…although He’s always there (just like He saw Nathanael under the fig tree) and looking to bring us as His stray sheep back (Matthew 18:10-14).

As we end this week, reflect on who might be a Nathanael in your life where you need to play the role of Philip by inviting them to “Come and see.”

Andrew

 

 

John 1:35-42, 6:1-13, 12:20-36

We don’t get very much information in scripture that is specific to Andrew. There isn’t a very big window to view his personality, thought processes, or actions like we have for a few of the other disciples. Even though we don’t have much information I think we can look at the few verses we have and find some help on how to follow Jesus better in our lives.

We learn from John 1 that Andrew knew John the Baptist and followed his teachings. Andrew was actually with John when Jesus went by one day. When John said who Jesus was, Andrew left John and followed Jesus. Even before meeting Jesus, he believed in Him and accepted Him as his Messiah. This shows that he had a soft heart toward God and faith that God had a plan. Andrew knew he had found someone precious when he met Jesus. He was so excited, that he left Jesus and went to find his brother. He wanted to share his excitement for hope with his family. Are we still excited about sharing our Savior with others? Have we been quick to tell our loved ones that we have found hope and a Savior?

John 6 tells us about Jesus miracle of multiplying the five loaves of bread and two fish. When a huge crowd (5,000 men, this number doesn’t include women and children) gathered around Jesus and his disciples, the disciples felt a responsibility to feed the people. Andrew speaks up. “There is a boy here with bread and fish.” “But what good is that with this huge crowd?” Is the hope in His miracle-working Messiah shining through Andrew’s announcement about the small basket of supplies? Practicality sets in and he realizes how foolish his solution sounds to others and he follows up his announcement with a more realistic question. What good is this little bit of food?  Do we see Jesus first in an impossible situation or do we use our human resources and processes to discount God’s ability to provide answers that are not humanly available?

Later in John, Philip, another disciple of Jesus’ from Andrew’s hometown, comes to Andrew to get help checking with Jesus about meeting some out of town guests. This lets us know that Andrew was accessible to others and it was high priority to him to bring others to Jesus. Are we available to be interrupted? Do other’s know they can come to us with issues and they will get our time, wisdom and help? Do we make showing other’s Jesus our top priority in life?

Let’s close this morning with Jesus words to Andrew and the rest of the disciples in John 12. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” Jesus is telling us that we need to be so committed to living for Him that we care nothing for our own lives by comparison. We have to turn away from the rule of self-centeredness that we are all are slave to. We need to put off our drive in life for advantage, security and pleasure so we can love God with our whole selves. Being willing to give up control of our lives to allow Christ to control us brings eternal life and true joy. I think we fear giving up control because we don’t fully grasp how much God loves us. We look at what we may be asked to give up rather than the fact that the Creator of the universe, the One who gave His life to buy us back from eternity separated from Him, actually desires a relationship with us. He loves us so much that He not only purchases us with His own life, but He also wants to help us change. This kind of love is so much more lavish and rich than the fear we have of missing out here on earth. He wants to give us eternal life, true joy, and relationship with Him while we are still on this earth.

We all know that God should be controlling our hearts and minds, but how do we actually do it? I wish I had a formula that I could add here to help us all accomplish this goal. In my earlier years I probably would have been dumb enough or arrogant enough to try to write one.  As I get older in my relationship with God I realize that nothing changes without His work in my heart. God’s word tells us this truth over and over, I just never really grasped it. I thought I could do it if I tried hard enough. A good place to start in being willing to give up control of my heart to Christ is asking for His help. Let me rephrase, change comes in consistently asking for help to put my heart in His hands. This is not a onetime, weekly or even monthly request. Every time I talk with Him I ask for His help in softening my heart, allowing him to enter new areas of my heart and to clean house in those areas, and to help me be more deeply devoted to putting my heart in His hands every day. I am finding that true change is slow. Real progress in giving up control to God takes time with Him every day that I can, with a heart that knows I can’t do it on my own. I also know how painful change can be so I ask Him to be as gentle with me as He possibly can and still accomplish His plan. (Maybe if I could be braver this process wouldn’t take as long…) I am also learning to live a little bit more in grace with this process. Instead of looking for complete surrender in all areas of my heart, (and feeling like a failure every time I realize I’m not) I’m learning to see that more areas of my heart are surrendered now than were 5 years ago. This is evidence of God’s work and I am grateful to Him for this change! I can also see that in a few of the areas that are surrendered, some are more deeply surrendered than they were in the past… again, evidence of His handy-work in my heart. The best change that I can measure, is that I started my day with Him more days this year than any other year in my life so far. It is clear to me that this particular change has facilitated all of the other progress that has been made in my heart. It is His grace, His time, and His gifts that are making me different than I used to be.

I wonder how this all worked in Andrew’s life. He got to spend a number of years in intensely close relationship with Jesus. Do you think he had a better grip on surrendering his heart to God than we do because of his relationship with Jesus? He got to see complete surrender lived out perfectly, but I have a feeling that the learning curve was so steep, and the life they all lived together was so fast paced and intense, it was hard to process it all until later in his life. We all have different experiences and different paths in life. We all have to decide who will rule our hearts. If we don’t consciously make a choice to surrender to God, our default setting is most definitely self.

Cleopas

In Luke 24, we read the story of the road to Emmaus. The experience of  two disciples who were walking home to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Jesus. Cleopas and his friend were trying to understand what had happened following the crucifixion, then after – having heard reports that the body of Jesus was now missing. They were wrestling with all they had gone through and the apparent impossibility of an empty tomb.

As they walked and talked that they were joined by a stranger who asked what they were talking about. This stranger – the risen Lord himself – gave them the gift of telling them everything that was there concerning himself.

As He broke bread together with them that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (v. 31). Suddenly they understood why it was that, as He talked with them, they sensed something happening inside which they could only describe as their hearts burning within them. This experience is a deep inner knowing of the presence of God and the revelation of the truth about God. When our hearts are gripped by the truth about God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we can never be the same again.

Crime and Punishment

Judgment, condemnation, punishment, and pain.  That’s what we expect.  It’s justice.  Especially for a criminal.  Death is justice for the truly sick ones.  Those that have murdered or committed other acts of brutality.  It’s what they deserve.  That is not true, however, in God’s economy.  His way is different.   Today, in Luke 23:26-43, we see it first hand.  Jesus befriends a criminal.  More than that, he promises him a place in heaven.  How is this justice?  How is this fair?  Was Jesus not thinking clearly?  This amazing story gives us great insight into our just and loving God.  The answers to the questions lie between the criminal’s heart and God’s love.

“Out of the heart, the mouth speaks,” says Jesus in Luke 6:45.  This simple wisdom is powerful.  In today’s story, we have two criminals.  One is mocking Jesus.  In his heart, the first criminal believes that Jesus is an imposter.  His hardened heart prevents him from seeing the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is.  He can’t even pretend.  The second criminal, however, reveals his hopeful heart.  He acknowledges his fear of God and defends Jesus.  Somewhere, in his heart is a belief that God is who he says he is.  Hanging on the cross, death was near.  He thought had nothing to gain. Out of each man’s heart, they spoke.

If we question Jesus’ wisdom in this matter, we should remember who he is.  I like his reminder to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7. “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  Do you know what the best part about that is?  God defaults to love.  I’m betting that he didn’t see perfection in the second criminal’s heart.  He forgave him anyway.  Why?  Because he will stop at nothing to be with us.  It is the very same reason that he will leave the 99 sheep to look for 1 (Matthew 18:12-24).  Simply put, his love for us cannot be contained.

There is one secret to unlocking the power of God’s love.  Of course, we have to believe, that’s a given.  The Bible says that we also must confess (Romans 10:9-10).  Isn’t this exactly what the criminal did?  Do you know what Jesus would have said to him if he’d kept his mouth shut?  Nothing.  That’s right.  His silence would have been a ticket to Hell.  What is your mouth saying about God today?

Jesus and Zacchaeus

Jesus and Zacchaeus, Luke 19

1He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What is the Holy Spirit stirring in your heart after reading this living passage?  Here are some questions that came to my mind:

      • Am I allowing my shortcomings (perceived or real) to keep me at arms length from Christ?
      • Do I need to take a step of faith and climb up out of the crowds and get closer to the Lord?
      • Is Jesus calling me by name for salvation or greater sanctification?
      • Am I jealous and questioning Jesus’s focus on someone or something I’ve judged as less than worthy?

Most of all, I’m challenged to be postured to hear the voice of the Lord. I need to reserve more time for listening and yielding. I’ve been in a season of transition, with my younger kids both in school, praying for guidance.  What’s next, where can I best serve, and asking for direction. In between all of the prayers is continued busyness. Noise. Activity.  And while most of it may be deemed “good”, what’s been lacking is stillness to hear what God has for me.

Zacchaeus took a day away from his work to seek out the Lord. In return, Jesus called him by name, joined him in his home, and led him to salvation and sanctification.

Does anyone feel called to step away? If you want to join me, I love partnership and accountability. Get in touch! I’m choosing Tuesday, November 12th, as a day to yield, listen, and sabbath.

 

Photo: Wikipedia, Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree he climbed.