Jesus said, “Mary” … “Rabboni” …!

19 07 2018

Jesus and Mary at the empty tombJesus was on the cross, giving his life for his friends and for you and for me!  He was having the “worst day of His life”!  I am sure that He was grateful that His friends were there to be part of the ‘worst day of his life’!  Isn’t that what friends are for?

And now we find ourselves on the “best day of Jesus’ life”!  It is the third day, and Jesus has risen from the dead!  It is His best day!  He wants His friends to be there to celebrate with Him.  And at the tomb, the women had been there, and they had gone and got Peter and John to see the Empty Tomb!  They are puzzled and are gone back to town, but Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ friends who was at the cross, is also at the tomb, and lingers, as she expresses her grief and tries to make sense of the Empty Tomb!

This is when friends meet!  From the ‘worst day of their lives’ to the ‘best day of their lives’, when friends are supposed to stick together …!  In grief and through the blurring tears, Mary thinking that the person talking to her was the gardener, expresses her dilemma.  Then Jesus says, “Mary”!  Just one word … HER NAME!  The most powerful word in communication … Your Name!

Jesus said in John’s Gospel chapter 10: 3, “The gatekeeper opens the door for the shepherd, and he goes in through it.  The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out.”  (The sheep know His voice).  Jesus calls us each by our name!  He knows us, and He wants us to follow him.

In the busyness of our lives today, and in all of the distractions, Jesus wants us to listen to his voice! So many other pictures come into our minds, many children playing outside and yet a mother will recognize their son or daughters cry in a moment of distress!  And the children will recognize when a mother says, “Time for supper, come on in!”  Not all the kids will run in the house!

How about a couple at a busy party, and yet each spouse is aware of where the other is and every nuance of a look or the tender words of compliments!  We know and hear our friends voices!

Are you listening to Jesus, calling you by name as He wants to share ‘your best day in your life’ or the ‘worst day in your life’, or even the mediocre days in your life.  He is whispering your name TODAY!





Jesus says to Peter, “Look At Me!”

25 06 2018

Jesus 2 - Bruce

(Picture is from the video of “Gospel of Matthew”, where Bruce Marchiano plays Jesus.  Highly recommend it! )

 

 

So, last night I wake up at 3.00 in the morning with a real bad dream!  This is a man who hardly has any dreams for months!  I am going to try to get back to sleep and I remember this Facebook post which said,

“When you can’t sleep at night, have you ever thought maybe it is God saying, “We need to talk and you now have the time.”

So I decided to just do exactly that, and God reminded me of my friend Peter, some call him, “Saint Peter”, but I see he is very much like me with many unsaintly qualities, and I am just going to highlight only three of the stories that I was reminded of.

  1. Peter walking on water- (Read full story at Matthew 14: 22- 33)

Here is Peter doing what Jesus had told him to do and he is taking the other disciples and going to the other side of the lake, when a great storm comes and rocks the boat so badly that they were all fearing for their lives.  They are wishing Jesus was there to help them in this situation, but no, they are alone to deal with this situation

Then we see Jesus comes walking on the water and they think he is a ghost, but finally they realize it is Jesus and Peter, my friend, says, “Lord if it is you, ask me to come to you.”  We next see Peter walking on the water, but he all of a sudden looks away from Jesus, and starts to sink.  So Jesus reaches out with his hand to Peter, giving us the first indication of Jesus saying to Peter “Look at ME”!

  1. Jesus transfigured before Peter – (Read full story in Luke 9: 28-36)

Jesus on this occasion takes Peter, James and John and goes up to a high mountain to be apart for a little while. So Jesus is praying and the disciples are sleeping!  (Seems like a common occurrence!)

So then Jesus is speaking to Moses and Elijah, and He is totally glowing with radiance!  Jesus then comes and wakes the three up and seems to say, “Look at Me”!  They are just startled by what they see, and my friend, Peter blurts out, let’s build three tabernacles here!  But Jesus hushes them and wants them, not to repeat anything that happened!

  1. Peter’s great confession – ( Read the full story in Matthew 16: 13-28)

So Jesus is with his disciples and says, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they answer, “Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, one of the prophets!”  But then Jesus says, “But who do you think that I am?”

So Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus then said to Peter, “I am going to build My Church on this rock …!”

But then, He starts to talk about how he was going to suffer and die, and my friend Peter jumps in and says, “No way, Jesus!  That is not going to happen!”  And so Jesus takes Peter aside and says, “Look at Me, Peter, you are not thinking the way that my Kingdom works.  This is how it has to happen.”  (This is my personal paraphrase)

  1. Peter is given the look – (Read the full story at Luke 22: 54- 62)

This story is the culmination of Jesus’ trying to get Peter’s attention to “Look at Jesus”!  We can see many other instances which can be read and studied, but that will be for another time and another day!

Jesus has been betrayed and is led to be tried, and Peter follows afar off and is warming himself by a fire in the cool morning hours, while he is watching what is happening to his friend Jesus.  And we see three times people come and confront Peter, “You are one of Christ’s followers aren’t you?”  And he vehemently protests that he is not.

The third time, a cock crows, and he remembers the words of Jesus, you will deny me three times and then the cock will crow.  At that moment, He looks at Jesus in the distance, and Jesus looks at Peter.  Their eyes lock and it is as if Jesus says to Peter, “Look at Me”!  Peter sees the love that Jesus expresses even the moment of denial, and he goes away and weeps bitterly!

Peter the impulsive, in the moment, “let’s go”, “let’s do”, “let’s try this” follower of Christ, whom Jesus was constantly trying to help him to focus on what Jesus was trying to say and do has heard Jesus say … “Look at Me”!  Did he learn the lesson?  We want to look at another story to learn what Peter really understood when Jesus was saying, “Look at Me”.

So Jesus had been crucified, was raised from the dead, spent time with the disciples and gone back to Heaven … Pentecost had happened and Peter and John are on their way to the Temple for Prayer Time, when they see this man who had been a beggar and they had seen him many times.  This day as usual, he asks Peter and John for money, but Peter today is a different man.  A Man who had looked at Jesus!  See what Peter says to the man,  “Look at me!  I don’t have any money to give you, but what I have, I will give to you.  In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Peter had looked at Jesus, Peter had bought into the currency of the Kingdom of God, he had been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we saw in his message on the Day of Pentecost, and Peter boldly says like Jesus did to him, “Look at Me”.  When the storms are raging around and winds threatening to swallow you, when the trials of life make us so weary, that we cannot keep our eyes open, when it is time to pray, when our motives are questioned, as to why we really follow Jesus … we see that Jesus does not push us aside, but says, “Look at Me, I am here for you.  I am on your side.  I will help you!”

Jesus says, “Look at Me _________!” (Insert your name)

 

 

 





Checklists!

27 03 2018

CHECKLISTSMy wife is very meticulous in making a “To Do” List for her day, and very studiously checks it off as she completes each task.  I admire her for doing it, even though I tease her about it.  The checklists I make are few and far between, and only when I have some small boring (?) tasks that I might keep forgetting.  My life must be boring, because I just keep to my routine!

I was thinking of checklists this morning, because I was reminded of the verse in Philippians 1:6 where God says that, ” … He will COMPLETE the Good Work that He has begun in me …”!  That means He is working in me and is not done with me.

This is a comforting thought to know that the God who is the creator of the Universe, and who put me together in my mothers womb (Psalm 139), is continuing to do a work that will bring honor and glory to Him. Because we see that in Genesis chapter 1 he steps back and looks at the work that He has done at the end of each day, and says, ” … this is very good…”!

And as Mahalia Jackson, the gospel singer is supposed to have said, “God, He makes no junk!”  So when God steps back after He is done with me, He is going to say, “Yes, what I did with Ted (_________insert your name___) is good, it is very good!  He brings me glory!

The other thing is that whatever, I might be going through as God is working on me, I know that God is very close to me.  I might not feel His nearness, but He is there!  He is just a whisper away, and He is there to love me and provide for me and heal my hurts and …!

So, as you look at your list today, remember that you are on God’s checklist to work a good work in you!  Allow Him to love you and to make a masterpiece out of your life!

Ephesians 2: 10 says: (New Living Translation)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 





“Am I Really Thankful …?

27 12 2017

IMG_0869

I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen, turned on the faucet and filled my coffee mug with fresh water, placed it in the microwave to make my first cup of coffee. As I reached for “my condiments for my coffee”, I casually glanced at the indoor /outdoor thermometer sitting on the kitchen counter, and a conversation that Linda and I had even yesterday, came back to me!  The difference in temperature between the inside of the house and the outside!

This morning it showed a 63 degrees on this outside wall, and the outside temperature was minus 9 (-9) degrees, that was 72 degrees difference.  The thought that ran through my mind was, I am taking this for granted!  Standing inside a warm house, even with a sweater, and bathrobe and a throw blanket, to sit in my easy chair, open up my Tablet to read my Bible in YouVersion, with about 50 translations to choose from, and a nice cup of coffee to warm me!

And I read the story that Jesus told in Luke 16: 19-31 in “The Voice” translation:

“19 There was this rich man who had everything—purple clothing of fine quality and high fashion, gourmet meals every day, and a large house. 20 Just outside his front gate lay this poor homeless fellow named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered in ugly skin lesions. 21 He was so hungry he wished he could scavenge scraps from the rich man’s trash. Dogs would come and lick the sores on his skin. 22 The poor fellow died and was carried on the arms of the heavenly messengers to the embrace of Abraham. Then the rich fellow died and was buried 23 and found himself in the place of the dead. In his torment, he looked up, and off in the distance he saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his embrace.

24 He shouted out, “Father Abraham! Please show me mercy! Would you send that beggar Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue? These flames are hot, and I’m in agony!”

25 But Abraham said, “Son, you seem to be forgetting something: your life was full to overflowing with comforts and pleasures, and the life of Lazarus was just as full with suffering and pain. So now is his time of comfort, and now is your time of agony. 26 Besides, a great canyon separates you and us. Nobody can cross over from our side to yours, or from your side to ours.”

27 “Please, Father Abraham, I beg you,” the formerly rich man continued, “send Lazarus to my father’s house. 28 I have five brothers there, and they’re on the same path I was on. If Lazarus warns them, they’ll choose another path and won’t end up here in torment.”

29 But Abraham said, “Why send Lazarus? They already have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to instruct them. Let your brothers hear them.”

30 “No, Father Abraham,” he said, “they’re already ignoring the law and the prophets. But if someone came back from the dead, then they’d listen for sure; then they’d change their way of life.”

31 Abraham answered, “If they’re not listening to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.”

The Voice (VOICE)The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

What was I to do with a story like this?  I was also reminded of the small post-it-notes, I had been writing each morning, 4 things I am thankful for, including the friend (from Facebook) that I was thankful for.  I had over 1460 tangible things, people, places that I was thankful for!

I am RICH!  God has blessed me with much!

How will I respond to Jesus TODAY?

 





There Has Been A Change of Plans!

23 12 2017

Emmanuel -God With Us

I had been planning a Bible Study for our church Senior Adult group on the Christmas Story, with the title “A Messy Christmas”, when I saw a title, which caught my eye and imagination, as a much better title for my thoughts, than “A Messy Christmas”.  It was the title of a Message preached by Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church a few years ago, “There Has Been a Change of Plans”.  (I am sorry Pastor Steven, that I cannot say, I have heard this message, but I promise I will go back and listen to it this Christmas Season.  I appreciate your preaching!)

So the Christmas Story starts at Galatians 4:4, “… But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman …”  The set time, and there was a coordination of people, lives events and History all culminating to fulfill the plan of God’s Master Plan, and the major characters in the plan were unaware of the vital part they were playing in the great story.

First, there was Zachariah and Elizabeth, devout godly people who had lived their whole lives following God and yet not having a child, even in their old age!  They receive the news that their world is going to be turned upside down, by the birth of a son, who was going to be the Forerunner to the Messiah.  From a quiet priestly life to cribs and diapers and baby toys – when they should be grandparents, instead being a Daddy and Mommy to a little boy John (the Baptist).  There has been a change of plans for you, Zechariah and Elizabeth!

Then there was Mary, a teenage girl, engaged to be married to Joseph a young carpenter, dreaming of her wedding and a humble but happy home and starting a family, when she is visited by an Angel, who announces to her that she is going to have a baby imminently, and the baby is going to be the long-expected Messiah, the Saviour of the world.  The baby was not going to be born with her union with Joseph, but supernaturally!  Yes, as a virgin!  Mary, there has been a change of plans for you!

Joseph, you are a just and righteous man and you are looking forward to your marriage to Mary, and to be a good husband to her, and to raise a family and provide for them with your carpentry business in Nazareth.  But Mary is going to have a baby, and she has not committed any sin against you, but is fulfilling God’s plan to be the earthly mother of God’s son, the Savior of the world.  Joseph you can be the earthly father of Jesus.  Joseph there has been a change of plans for you!

Then there were some shepherds watching over their flocks by night, in a field in the Judean hills, with no other thought than keeping themselves awake and warm, and keeping their flock safe from the predators and any thieves who would try to steal their sheep.  An Angel announces that they need to go and see a little baby that was born that night, who was laying in a manger, in a stable, much like the ones that their sheep would use.  A very familiar place!  But the baby was going to be the Savior of the world!  (He would be their Great Shepherd – a thought I had, free to you, no charge!)  This is not going to be another boring night, because, Mr. Shepherds, there has been a change of plans for you!

Finally lets look at another group of people.  They were not even living in Judea!  They were in a far of foreign land,  They were Astronomers, studying the movement of the stars and planets, and their significance to the times and seasons!  They see a unique star appear in the sky, which as they study carefully, they recognize it is heralding the birth of a King, a King of the Jews!  They feel compelled that they must make their journey, long and arduous to see this King and worship Him.  The preparations and the explanations to their families and friends and then the long trip to Bethlehem and back!  Wise Men, Magi, there has been a change of plans for you!

To each and every person involved in the First Christmas Story, it was not a “Holly Jolly Merry Christmas”!  It was Messy!  But they knew that Emmanuel – “God With Us”, was the One who was changing the plans for them!

To me, to you Christmas 2017 might be Messy, might be heart breaking, confusing and a lot of “Why’s” and “Why now’s” and “Why me’s”!  But we can know that Emmanuel – is God With Us!  Yes our plans may have changed but God is with us this Christmas – December 2017!   May you know the Blessing of HIS Presence with you this Season!





A Landmark for me!

22 11 2017

IMG_0871November 22nd remains as a landmark in my life, and so my memory  goes to the first November 22nd that made it a landmark!  It was 1969, that would be 48 years ago, when I first arrived in the United States of America, landing in Seattle, Washington around  6.00 am on a NorthWest Airlines (presently Delta Airlines) from Tokyo, Japan (now called Narita).

I was met by Brother Sam Smith ( to friends from Seattle Bible College) our Dean, and friend with his towering figure and disarming smile!  And the rest becomes History!

Forty eight years of God’s Goodness, Grace and Love!In all these years, then the promise that God gave to Abraham has been my foundational verse, and mainstay!  He has never failed me yet!  The verses read from Genesis 12: 1-3

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

What A Great God we serve, and how great is His goodness, to us, and not one word of His promises has failed me, as Joshua said in his farewell address to his people in Joshua 23: 14,

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”

I would encourage you TODAY to look back thankfully on ALL that God has blessed you with, and in thankfulness, bless those whom God has placed in your lives right now.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!





Sixth Sense or Divine Guidance?

21 11 2017

Image result for Feeding the Five Thousand

Every students nightmare is to hear the words, “Today we are going to have a quiz!  It is only one question but it will be towards half your final grade for the quarter!”

Jesus seems to do this in John 6, when we read the words, “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.”  (NKJV)

“… Jesus looked around and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, so he asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?” (He said this to test Philip; actually he already knew what he would do.)…” (GNT)

Here in this story, it seems like Jesus is addressing Philip but the story goes on to say, that Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was already “working the crowd”, as he was one of these people that “did not know a stranger”, and found this little boy who had a picnic lunch, with five loaves and two fish.

And Jesus, now goes about getting everyone seated, so that they can enjoy lunch together.  So when everyone is seated, Jesus takes the little boys lunch, prays and feeds the multitude – 5000 men plus women and children- over 10,000 people with the five loaves and two fish.

So, the conversation was started between Jesus and Philip, but it is prefaced by the statement, ” he was testing Philip (and the disciples), but He (Jesus) already knew what He was going to do.  What does this mean?

My mind with its fertile imagination, sees Jesus having His time of devotions, and talking to His Father in prayer and looking at the lesson plan for the day!  He is on a crash course of Training the disciples in a three year program to become “Men Who Turned The World Upside Down”  (Acts 17:6 NKJV)  or as some say turned it right side up!

So, according to the plan, the lesson is:

Trust and faith in God to provide for our needs, as we surrender what we have in our hands, into the hands of Jesus, and He will take the little we have and multiply it to bless the many.

He wants the disciples to see, that however insignificant the person is (a little boy) and however little what is handed over to Jesus is (five loaves and two fish for over 5000 men plus), when we totally surrender to God all that we are and have, “Little is Much When God is In It”!

The take away for me is that, Jesus sets us an example of how to order a productive and successful life.  As we spend time with God and ask Him, what God’s priorities are for us for the day, we hear God prompt us through His Word and strong impressions on our heart, His plan and His purpose for the day!  This is the way we will know what we will need to do when we come face to face with a problem – financial, health, social or emotional!

What a practical lesson for us to cultivate into our daily lives.  Quieten our hearts, speak to God, listen to him and follow God’s leading given to us in our quiet time!