The Jesus Question

 

"May prayer be made for him continually." - from Psalm 72:15

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

Most people have an opinion or belief about Jesus. Some see Him as a compassionate man who once walked around Galilee and Jerusalem doing good things for people and teaching them to live better lives. Others claim a personal relationship with Him – believing He’s with them, praying to Him, asking Him to guide their lives. For some, opinions are based on hearsay or feelings; for others, they are based on research and reading. There is no doubt that the views of Jesus vary widely.

Here are some things people have said about Him:

  • Some in the biblical crowd: “He is a good man.”
  • Others in same crowd: “He deceives the people.”
  • Roman centurion: “Surely this was the Son of God.”
  • C. S. Lewis: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
  • John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
  • Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • Thomas: “My Lord and my God.”
  • Bertrand Russell: “. . . clearly he was not so wise as some other people have been, and he was certainly not superlatively wise.”
  • People of Nain: “A great prophet has appeared among us.”
  • Temple guards: “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”

If Jesus walked into the room right now, what would you say to Him? About Him? Who is Jesus to you? It’s the most important question you will ever answer.

“The miracle of the gospel is Christ, risen and glorified, who this very moment tracks us, pursues us, abides in us, and offers Himself to us as companion for the journey.” – Brennan Manning

Self-Improvement Plan?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20a

God lives inside us. It is His goal that we simply believe and act on that fact. It is not a “someday”, it is now: He indwells those who have accepted His invitation to follow Him. He is bigger, stronger, and smarter than we are, desiring to overrule our bad decisions and live the God-life through us. If we really believed that, how might things be different?

  • We would recognize Satan’s lies (e.g. worry means love).
  • We wouldn’t be anxious about things that are far in the future.
  • We would be more discerning about people, able to see through to their hearts.
  • We would love more.
  • We would rejoice every time truth triumphs over lies.
  • We would have an eternal perspective.
  • We would serve others with wisdom and grace.
  • Our concerns about appearances would fall away.
  • We would trust Christ’s lordship of this world, doing our part, but  leaving the rest in His hands.
  • We would entrust our children to God, knowing He has a plan for each of them that includes us, but does not center on us.
  • We would learn to listen to our bodies, giving them what they need (e.g. food, exercise, and rest).
  • We would give generously.

We don’t have to adopt another self-improvement plan. We just need to yield to the Christ living within us, intentionally giving up our wills for His and letting His love, power, truth, and peace flow through us. When He lives in us, we become better people and the world becomes a better place!

“God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life fully yielded to Him.” – Andrew Murray

 

 

 

Becoming Prayer

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“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2

When I am rightly tuned in to God, I find myself praying all day long. I ask Him for direction, thank Him for the wonders I see in His world, ask Him to bless the person ahead of me in line at the bank, pray for the people involved in the situation wherever the ambulance is going, receive everything as a gift from Him, and talk to Him as I would a friend if there is something troubling me.

It doesn’t happen every day, but I wish it would. Those days have a sweetness and satisfaction that can’t be rivaled by anything else I know.

When I found this ancient prayer, I realized it expressed my heart’s desire. Praying it seems to reconnect me to my Creator. Maybe it will help you, too.

“Holy Spirit dwell in me,
that I may become prayer.
Whether I sleep or wake,
eat or drink
labor or rest,
may the fragrance of prayer
rise, without effort, in my heart.
Purify my soul and never leave me,
so that the movements of my heart and mind
may, with voices full of sweetness,
sing in secret to God.” St. Isaac the Syrian

 

 

 

Prayer from The Book of a Thousand Prayers, compiled byAngela Ashwin, Zondervan, 1966, p. 19.

Pennies on the Path

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“I cannot cause light. The most I can do is to put myself in the path of its beam.”                                    – Annie Dillard

I had an uncle who lived at the other end of a well-worn path between my Grandmother’s house and his. When he knew the grandchildren were coming to visit, he showed up at Grandma’s door, too. Then he would invite one of us to walk with him on the path to his house. As we walked, we were amazed to find pennies all along the way. Even when I became a young adult and Uncle Walt was gone, I couldn’t resist looking for pennies when I walked that path!

I believe God has taken great delight in putting “pennies” on the path we will walk today. One author calls God’s sometimes unnoticed gifts as “small joys and pieces of beauty”. How many of them do we miss because we are not paying attention? We are watching our feet or worried about the obstacles ahead and missing God’s little gifts along the way.

As we enter this new year, let’s have enough faith in our loving heavenly Father to believe that He has “small joys and pieces of beauty” for us every single day. Then, let’s remember to look for them. If we do, 2016 will be a year filled with surprises, smiles, and praise. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next on the path!

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6a NIV)

I Know He Knows

 

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“My business is to remain in the presence of God.” – Brother Lawrence

As I was approaching God this morning, I was trying to lay down concerns that could be distractions to my time with Him. I gave Him my list of worries – people, commitments, usefulness – all of that. Then, as I sat with Him, in my mind I heard:

“You know that I know and that’s all you need to know – for now.”

Oh, yes! I know that He knows, so I can walk away from meddling. This is God I am talking to – the almighty, all-knowing, always loving God. There is no safer place to leave those I care about, projects I have taken on, or unsolvable problems in the world. He knows! He has power! He is loving. I have full confidence that He will act when the time is right and, in the interim, will walk with me moment-by-moment through conversations, confrontations, decisions, and planning.

Knowing that He knows allows me to let go, to rest in Him, and to live fully the life He has put in front of me today. Knowing that He knows is freedom and joy, even in the waiting time.

Stand still and see the great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.” (1 Samuel 12:16)

Running to Jesus

I will run past everything to be united with You.” (anonymous prayer)

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When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry or fear. As long as you are running, you’re safe.” ― Francis Chan

What do we need to run past today? The troubling email? A distressing medical appointment? A wayward child? A financial stress? A needy friend? A demanding boss? It’s not that we won’t deal with any of those things, but we need to connect with Jesus first.

Picture a long passageway. As you move along it, there are problems or people calling for your attention – just a moment of time, just a short side road. But you know that Jesus is at the end of this path, waiting patiently for you to come to Him. See Him? Now run! Run to Him, past everything that calls to you, past the problems, anxieties, demands of life. Run to Him to be loved, forgiven, nurtured, and directed. Then turn around and attend to all these things one-by-one as He walks beside you.

Sometimes it’s not that what we do is wrong, it’s just that we too often do it without Jesus, without direction, without connecting first to the only One who can make a real difference in each situation we face. Let’s run to Jesus. Sitting quietly in His presence is the most important thing we have to do today. Really, it is.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1, Amplified Bible)

When I am Afraid

I am afraid sometimes, actually more times than I like to admit. When I am willing to look for help for my fear, I often find the psalms provide comfort and direction. Psalm 16 is one of my favorites.

Psalm 16:1a: Keep me safe, O God . . .

The first part of this verse helps me to slow down and identify my specific fear. What do I want to be kept safe from?

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. – Psalm 23:4 NLT

Accident?
Physical pain?
Emotional stress?
Failure?
Mistakes?
Sin?
Evil powers?

Once I identify the fear I am dealing with, I can pray specifically for the protection I need. The fears that most often surface for me relate to things I can’t control. When I know I don’t have influence over what may be about to happen, fear can strike to my core.

Psalm 16:1b: . . . for in You I take refuge.

Refuge in God means I trust Him to take care of me. It means I give up control to Him. He is my safe place. He protects me even from myself, my weaknesses, flaws, and lack of judgment, as well as from other people’s mistakes or intentions. As I surrender my will and my specifically identified fear to Him, room is created in my soul for peace to seep in. Little by little, by the power of the Holy Spirit, peace conquers fear and I am at rest.

Until next time, that is. Then we do it again. But God is never impatient with my call to Him for help and my desire to take refuge in Him. He just seems pleased that I am learning to trust Him when I am afraid. He is ready to welcome you to His safe place, too. Just ask Him.

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner