March 20, 2018

Scripture: John 17:7 CEB
“Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.”

For the past 16 years I have been sharing the way in which God has been working on me. I have had the privilege and responsibility to be doing this in the form of preaching on Sundays. When I believe the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so, I will share something from my own life that God has been teaching me. It can be something very simple or a major life lesson. It truly is up to the Spirit. Over the past 16 years a parallel experience has been taking place. My parents have discovered things about their son that they never knew. They have discovered that I wasn’t trying to sneak out late at night, I was actually sneaking back in. They have discovered that when I was fourteen I borrowed my aunt’s rental car for an evening. They have discovered I did all kinds of things they were unaware of when I was younger. Hopefully, they have also discovered that God has done some pretty incredible things with the kid who did all those not so great things earlier in life.

Another aspect of revealing the secrets I kept in my earlier life is the freedom that comes from confession. Every time my parents would hear a new story their response was similar, “I never knew that!” My response to them was always something along the lines of “Well, now you know!” It’s probably a little easier to reveal past secrets where the parental statute of limitations has run out. However, it is cathartic at the very least to know that you no longer must keep something a secret because, now they know. Have you experienced this freedom? Perhaps there was something in your past that you were a little too embarrassed to admit. Once you came clean about it you felt a newfound freedom. I believe there is power in not keeping secrets and letting people see the real you. If they don’t accept or understand the mistakes you have made, or just who you are, that's okay. It’s better to be open and make sure that people know the real you.

As we continue to look at Jesus’ prayer in The Gospel of John, I believe this is the type of thing Jesus was praying about. Do you remember early on in Jesus’ ministry when he performed a miracle or a healing he would tell the person not to tell anyone. Jesus was not trying to keep a secret about his past. He told them this because it wasn’t the right time yet. In fact, in this prayer he is talking with the Father about how he has only told the ones the Father has given to him. He has not yet told the whole world. The important thing at the moment is that Jesus believed it was the right time to let them know. They now know that everything Jesus taught them was given to them by the Father. Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised people from the dead, rebuked the religious leaders, and cast out demons by the authority and power given him by the Father. The incredibly amazing thing is the disciples got to see ALL of this and now hear Jesus praying about why. What will be important is what they will then do with this information. Now they know!

What will you do with this information today? Now you know! You know why Jesus came to earth. You know who Jesus is. You know why he was beaten, crucified, dead and buried. You know why on the third day he was raised from the dead. Now you know what it means to have your sins forgiven and your life transformed. What will you do with this knowledge today? May we live a life that exhibits the love of Jesus. May we be as patient with others as God, the Father, has been with us. May we offer compassion toward our fellow humans. May we forgive those who offend us as quickly and completely as Christ has forgiven us. Those who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ live differently. Now they know, and that knowledge changes everything.

Prayer: Holy God, thank you for the faithful witness of your Son, Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus’ example of what it means to follow you that I am free. Empower me today through your Holy Spirit to be a witness to your love. I will be more patient, loving, grace-filled, and compassionate today. I will give you all the honor, glory and praise in the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 19, 2018

Scripture: John 17:3 CEB
“This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.”

In what seems like a different world and a long time ago … we used to answer a home phone that rang from the wall or counter. We would run over to the phone and pick it up not even knowing who might be on the other end of the line. It was a little bit of an excitement to wonder who it might be. As you picked up the phone and put it to your ear you would say, “Hello.” The other person would then say something like, “Hello, may I please speak to Suzy?” If Suzy indeed lived there, and was home, you would tell her someone was on the phone for her. In a lot of ways, it is a day that has passed us by and given way to new technology. If we still have a home phone, we now have caller ID and know who is on the other end of the phone before we ever answer the call. Many people no longer have a home phone and only have cell phones. If this is the case, then an actual phone call is rare. Instead, we communicate via text messages, emails and social media. If you suggest to a teenager to call one of their friends on the phone they will look at you as if you are speaking a foreign language.

There is only one thing I truly miss about the home phone. When the phone rang and you went to answer it, as soon as the person on the other end of the phone answered, you knew who it was just by their voice. Do you remember this phenomenon? Whenever a good friend or relative called you knew who they were immediately, you didn’t need them to tell you who they were. Of course, this still happens today, but with the technology of today we usually know who it is before we answer. The reason we know someone by their voice is because we know the person. It takes spending time with and around someone to know them just by their voice. When you spend time getting to know someone over a long period of time you will know them just by the sound of their voice. This is what relationships, friendships are all about. We spend time getting to know each other well. As you are reading this, what friends' voices come to mind? I bet there are a few close friends who you are thinking of right now because you know them and they know you.

In part, this is what a true relationship with God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is like. We get to know God as we spend time in prayer, reading Scripture, fasting, journaling, and meeting with fellow believers. Our relationship grows closer and we begin to know God and recognize God’s voice. We are able to more readily understand God’s will for our life. Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection become clearer and we better understand what it means for our lives. It is only through intimacy with God that we can truly know God. This is what Jesus meant when he prayed, “This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” We must spend time getting to know God, through Jesus Christ whom God sent. It is through time spent in relationship with Jesus that we come to know his voice. We come to know his voice in the whispers and quiet moments. We come to know his voice in the storms of life. We come to know Jesus’ voice in all the moments of life. We must know God to know God’s voice.

Start your day with a time of prayer and Scripture reading. Pray to know God and allow God to know you. I know that God created you and knows you better than you know yourself. However, there is something very freeing about opening yourself intentionally to be known by God. I believe it helps you to know God more intimately and completely. Be intentional today about seeking to know God better, more deeply. Take time today to listen for God’s voice. It is important to know God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There will be at least one moment today where you will need to hear the voice of Jesus. Spend some time preparing for that moment. This is what Jesus said is eternal life: to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom God sent.

Prayer: Holy and sending God, thank you for sending the gift of your Son, Jesus. I long to know you more. I will be intentional about listening for your voice today. I know you know me and I want to be known fully. Help me through your Holy Spirit, and in the name of Jesus, to know you in every moment of my day. I pray that you will receive all honor and glory and praise. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 17, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:33  CEB
“Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

A desire is to long or hope for something or someone. There are many things in life for which we might long or hope. Many people long or hope for fame, fortune, power, or position in life. Others desire freedom from structure and institutional thinking. Some people desire to live off the grid and not have to answer to anyone. People in general long for security, safety, peace, and happiness. As a nation people desire sovereignty and the ability to create the cultural norms by which everyone will live. So, there are many things for which we desire. We long for or hope for something meaningful and fulfilling above all else. It is usually this desire that seems most elusive to the world around us. People desire to live a meaningful life that has purpose.

Jesus taught his disciples that there is one thing worthy of our desire. Above all else, there is one thing that will lead us to live a life of great purpose. Jesus acknowledges that there are all kinds of things in this world we can desire. He also warns his followers not to get caught up in the trap of seeking what the world has to offer. Jesus teaches, “Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” It is God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness that should be our first desire. The lyrics of the song Above All performed by Michael W. Smith help us see the nature of God’s kingdom:

          Above all kingdoms, Above all thrones, Above all wonders the world has ever known
          Above all wealth and treasures of the earth, there’s no way to measure what you’re worth


Our first desire in the morning and our last desire at night should be Jesus. Other things may seem worthy of our desire, but they will always fall short. Things will decay and become obsolete. People will let you down despite their best intentions. The only thing that is forever and certain is God’s kingdom. Jesus promised to never leave us or forget about us. Jesus promised to be with us until the end of the age. Jesus promised to go and prepare a place for us and then return to bring us to his Father’s house. Jesus is the one who loved us enough to be beaten and shamed. Jesus is the one who endured the cross and was raised from the dead. Jesus is the only one worthy of our desire. Our first desire must be God’s kingdom and righteousness as revealed in Jesus.

If you are reading this in the morning, make Jesus your first thought and desire. Throughout the day seek Jesus as your first desire as you love the people you come across. Desire first to live out the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness following the example of Jesus. Love your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, and everyone you interact with. Seek first to love like Jesus. This should be our first desire. If we make this our first desire, Jesus says everything else will be given to us as well. Meaning and purpose, fulfillment and joy will flow from our first desire.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I desire for nothing more than you today. I seek to love like you. It is my desire to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is my desire to love my neighbor as you have loved me. Empower me to desire nothing but you today. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 16, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:22 CEB
“The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Palm Beach County, Florida is one of the iconic lighthouses in Florida. It was built over a five-year period from 1855 to 1860 at a cost of over $60,000. It was designed to warn ships about the offshore coral reef and the dangers it presented. The Lighthouse was first lit on July 10, 1860. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is 108 feet tall but towers 156 feet over the water due to a 48-foot natural sand dune upon which it sits. The focal plane of the light is 146 feet above the water. The light produced by the Lighthouse can be seen up to 28 miles offshore and 40-50 miles from an airplane. With its distinctive coral colored tower and black light housing it is one of the best-looking lighthouses in the state of Florida.

The purpose of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, and any lighthouse, is to shine light into the darkness. The light it shines into the darkness offers the potential to save lives. If a ship’s captain will heed the warning of the lighthouse and adjust her/his course accordingly, all will go well. Of course, if the warning light is ignored disaster can occur. The light of a lighthouse consists of a bulb, or bulbs, that are reflected by a lens which throws the light great distances. The quality of the lens determines the effectiveness of the light. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse has what is termed a first order Fresnel lens that was manufactured in Paris. It is reported to be the oldest existing first order Fresnel lens in the state of Florida. The power from the light comes from the electrical plan and then is conducted through the bulb into light and then thrown by the lens as the beacon the ship’s captain sees. The bulb and the lens work together to allow the lighthouse to fulfill the purpose for which it was designed.

In The Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches about the power of a different lamp (light). It is not a lighthouse, but the concept is similar. Jesus says that, “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Jesus is teaching his followers from a well-known view in the ancient world. It was commonly believed that a person’s eye allowed the body’s light to be seen by others. We have a similar belief in our time. This is why people might say something like “there is a sparkle in his/her eye.” Usually, this refers to hope or energy that the person has within their personality. Jesus was saying that when your eye is healthy the light of the One who created you, the One who has saved you, and the One who sustains you is shining through your eyes. We become spiritual lighthouses by which the people around us can navigate the darkness. The light doesn’t come from us, we are just the lens through which the light is shared. The light is Jesus.

The decision we must make every morning is if we will be the light. You may remember the children’s song This Little Light of Mine. According to the lyrics we must decide that we are going to let the light of Christ shine through us. We aren’t going to hide the light, we aren't going to let anyone or anything blow it out. We are going to let it shine. We need to have a healthy spiritual life for the light to shine brightly. We need to spend time with God praying, reading Scripture, fasting, journaling, and being quiet. When we do these things, and are in a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ, our light will shine. Will you be a lighthouse today?

Prayer: Most Holy and Almighty God, make me your lighthouse today to a darkened world. May I reflect your holiness, your love, your mercy to those who need you most. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 15, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:21 CEB
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In our family we have a thing called a keepsake box. Each member of the family has a box filled with special items that are important to them. These are the things that we do not want to get rid of under any circumstances. In some cases, they are certificates of achievement, special stuffed animals, and many other items that denote a certain time or memory that is meaningful and significant. The boxes are kept in our closets and are accessible whenever we want to add to them or take a trip down memory lane. Some of the items in the boxes might surprise you and others would seem obvious. The one common thread you would find in each of the four boxes is everything in them has meaning to the person to whom the box belongs. You could say that they are treasures to that person.

If you were to ask a member of our family where their treasure is, I would imagine we might say our keepsake box. As I am an ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church, our family has had to move a few times. The notion of a keepsake box is both practical and effective. Obviously, when you move around a little bit you cannot collect things like those who don’t. We have learned to keep the things that are important to us and let go of the rest. We keep only that which we truly treasure. The definition of a treasure is something of great worth or a collection of precious things. All the things are worth a lot to us and are precious to us. What do you collect or keep because it is special to you? We all have some of those things that we treasure. Maybe it is something that has been handed down through generations in your family. Perhaps it is something your mom or dad gave you when you were a child. Whatever it is, we all have treasure.

Jesus was telling his followers that the treasures we tend to store up on earth are temporary. They eventually decay or wear out. Jesus tells them that there is only one treasure that is worth holding onto. The good news that Jesus brought to them was a treasure. Their relationship with Jesus as Messiah was a treasure. Their salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the only treasure worth holding onto. Everything else will fade away and won’t last. The Word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ is eternal. This is the treasure that Jesus urges his followers to store up. He tells them that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your treasure and your passion are interwoven. We treasure what we are passionate about and we are passionate about what we treasure. If we treasure our relationship with Jesus we will be passionate about cultivating it and sharing it. It will be our hearts desire.

What do you treasure? Where is your heart? Does Jesus have your whole heart today? Will you be passionate about following Jesus today? Take time to read God’s Word today and store up the treasure it offers you. Spend time in prayer today seeking God’s presence and listening for God’s guidance. Seek the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you and prompt you today. Treasure your relationship with Jesus and follow him passionately today. Give every part of your day to Jesus and allow your treasure to be revealed in every part of your day. Remember, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Prayer: God of grace and mercy, everything you give me is a treasure. I am especially grateful for your Son, Jesus. May I treasure Jesus and follow him with all my life. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to live fully in the name of Jesus today. I will give you the honor, glory and praise for the treasure you have given me. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 14, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:16-18 CEB
“When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face.”

We were all taught that there are essentials to life. We all need the most basic essentials of food, water and shelter to survive. A human being can survive more than three weeks without food. Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days of complete starvation. A human being can only go about four days without water. We would last even less if there is no shelter and we are exposed to the elements. A human being is believed to be able to only go a matter of months without sleep before internal organs are affected and the potential of death arises. Going without the essentials of life will put our bodies in danger. The non-essentials of life are a different story. We are able to go a lot longer without these non-essentials. The principle behind fasting is to go without one of the essentials, usually food, for a short period of time to focus on our spiritual needs. Fasting can be challenging and that is the idea.

You may have done a one day fast or a juice fast. You also may have fasted from something other than food, think Lent. The idea of giving something up for Lent is essentially the principle of fasting. However, most people get the idea of fasting wrong. For example, when you give something up for Lent (chocolate being the most popular) do you moan and groan about it the whole 40 days? How many Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter posts do you create about it? Over the years I have known a lot of people who have given up something for Lent, fasted from it, only to make it even more the focus of their life because they talk about how much they miss it. This is not the purpose of fasting.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were doing something similar to what I described above. They would fast, but they would make sure that they looked especially pathetic so people would know they were fasting. They would fast for short periods of time and make themselves look like they were dying. This was intended to show how serious they were about their faith. They are why Jesus told his followers, “But when you fast, brush your hair and wash your face.” My rough paraphrase would be, “When you fast, look normal and don’t draw attention to yourself.” Fasting is meant to be between you and God. In fact, we are not supposed to moan and groan about how much we miss what we have given up. The purpose of fasting is to draw us closer to God. Every time we miss what we have given up, food or something else, we are to pray. If we have given up food, when we get hungry we are to pray. If we have given up chocolate, when we feel the urge to eat some chocolate we pray instead. In fasting we replace whatever we have given up with prayer.

Have you given up something for Lent? If you have, has this practice drawn you closer to God in prayer? If you have not given up something for Lent, it’s not too late. You could give up 30 minutes of screen time each day and replace it with prayer. Instead of your normal break at work spend that time reading Scripture and praying. Fast from the radio in your car and spend that time in prayer. The thing you give up may very well end up blessing you as you spend more time with God. I have known many people who fasted from something during Lent and never went back to it when Lent was over. The practice of spending more time in prayer with God was more beneficial to them than the thing they gave up. Could you benefit from replacing something in your life with prayer?

Prayer: God of everything and everyone, thank you for all you have given to me. Help me to see the things I can do without so I may spend more time with you. Send your Holy Spirit to give me the power to fast and pray. I look forward to the ways I will be blessed through this spiritual practice. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
 

March 13, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:6 CEB
“But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”

It was a very short prayer service led from The Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church. The pastor led the service and the people had their parts in prayer and response. When the short service ended, the pastor invited everyone into a time of silence and prayer. The people present entered into personal reflection and contemplation. It was quiet with some soft instrumental music playing in the background. I suspect that for some of us present that night it was the most quiet they had, or would have, all week. Some stayed for about 10 minutes and others for almost 30 minutes. It was a time to invite Jesus into their hearts and minds in the silence of the space. Time to focus on Jesus and invite the Holy Spirit to lead their thoughts and prayers. In one word, it was nice.

Throughout these 40 days of Lent I have been busier than ever. I have had so many things keeping me running here and there. At church there is never a shortage of things to be done. Worship services come with amazing regularity and there are many details that need to be worked out for every single Sunday. There are sermons to write, meetings to be held, decisions to be made, people to visit, and calls to be made. There are also devotions to be written (one every day for 40 days). To be clear it is a busy season in the life of the church. To be even more clear I wouldn’t want it any other way. Of course, you add to all this my family responsibilities; I am a husband and father, too. Can you relate? We are busy people with a lot of things to do and a lot of people to see and a lot of places to go. It can get tiring. I would be willing to guess that you don’t have a lot of quiet time in your life. If you do, I am going to also guess that you are creating the time intentionally.

Jesus said, “But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place.” In other words, find a quiet place (your quiet place) and get away to pray. I know we have already talked about this earlier in Lent. There is something miraculous about silence. We need a little silence every day. Jesus is telling us that we cannot spend quality time with God if we are constantly distracted. We have mind numbing sound around us most of the day. Just a few of the sound makers in our life are television, radio, computers, phones, music, talking, traffic, and people. If you have kept all of these off for a full day this week, let’s face it …you’re weird! Or at least different or unusual. I honestly think we will have rehabilitation centers for phone and social media addicts in the near future. We just don’t do quite well.

Will you commit to carving out some time today for silence? A few minutes to completely disconnect from the noise of the world and connect with God in prayer. Try not turning the radio on in your car on the drive to work. Commit to not turning the television on today. Unless it’s necessary for work, stay off the computer today. If you will take some time today to be quiet and pray to God in that quiet/secret place, you will experience God anew. In your prayer say only what is necessary to show God how much you love God. Spend the rest of the time in silence and listen. It will be uncomfortable if you are not used to this practice. Press through the discomfort and allow God to be present. It may be a good idea to take a journal with you and write down what you hear and think. I believe this will be a blessing to you. When you pray, take time to be silently present with God.

Prayer: Holy God, I long to be in your presence today. Help me to make time to be quiet before you. Send your Holy Spirit to speak to me in that time. Give me the discernment and clarity to listen to you alone. Give me the strength and courage to do whatever you say. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

March 12, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:3-4 CEB
“But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”

Do you still get excited about Christmas morning? I remember the heightened level of excitement my sister and I had when we were very young. It was almost a challenge to see who would wake up first on Christmas morning. It was then a challenge to see how much noise we could make in an attempt to wake up our sleeping parents. The presents were all under the tree. It was obvious that Santa Clause had visited in the wee hours of the night. The excitement was palpable and I can still feel it when I relive those memories. The excitement was all about opening presents and finding out what you had been given. Of course, then spending the rest of the day playing with toys and trying out everything that you had received. This is the excitement of Christmas when we are young.

At some point in our life the excitement changes. When we are younger the excitement is all about opening the gifts we will receive. When we get older the excitement changes to watching others receive the gifts we have given. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun to receive. I believe when we are older we tend to receive more joy and excitement in watching others receive what we have given them. It isn’t just at Christmas time either. I remember giving Debbie her birthday presents the first year we were dating. I had put a lot of thought, time and energy into picking just the right things. I couldn’t wait for her to open the presents and see her reaction. I remember the night I proposed marriage to Debbie and the excitement of waiting to see her reaction to the ring. The same kind of excitement was there when we watched the girls every Christmas and birthday as they opened the presents we hoped would bring them joy. It is exciting to see others receive the gifts you have given.

This is the principle behind Jesus’ teaching about how we should give. Jesus says we should not give so that others can see us. Rather, we should give without anyone knowing so that we can see them receive. God is the only one with whom we should be concerned when it comes to our giving. God knows how generous we are with what God has entrusted to us. God knows whether we give in ways that bless others. God also knows if we spend the vast majority of what we have on ourselves. Jesus says, “But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret.” Our only motivation in giving to the poor should be obedience to God and compassion for others. The blessing we will receive is knowing that others are being helped by our giving. When you give, give because of your love for God and your love for others.

What will be your motivation when you give today? Will you look for ways to be generous today? Will you be generous with your time? Will you be generous with your attention? Will you be generous in service to others? Will you be generous with your ideas and talent? If the opportunity presents itself … will you be generous with your financial resources? God calls us to be generous people and help those in need. Jesus reminds us that this call is not so that we will be noticed. It is so that we will receive the reward of knowing that we have pleased God. When you give today, may it be for God’s glory and not your own.

Prayer: Generous and giving God, thank you for all that you have blessed me with. You have given me time, talent, abilities and money. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to use all my resources generously and for your glory. May I be a blessing to someone today through the way I give. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

March 10, 2018

Scripture: John 11:40 CEB
“Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?”

It shows up in so many different ways each and every day. It can be as simple as a sunrise, your feet hitting the floor at the start of another day, or a smile from someone you love. It can be a song on the radio that causes you to remember a special moment, an email from a friend who cares, or a lunch date and conversation. Today I saw it in a young woman who is answering the call to ministry as a pastor. I experienced it at lunch with a couple whose commitment to each other is inspiring. I witnessed it in a gentleman who was working hard to earn a living to support his family. I noticed it in the faces of friends and fellow believers in Jesus Christ. God’s glory is all around us and just waiting for us to see it.

To think of it theologically, everything we see and the things we don’t see were created by God. All of the experiences we have on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis take place within the created order. We were created by God. In fact, we are created in the image and likeness of God. As the psalmists writes, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Everything that God created God declared good. Which means God’s glory is all around us. When we wake up in the morning and hear the birds in the tree, see the squirrels running around, and feel the breeze blowing … that’s God’s handiwork. The question we need to ask ourselves is … are we seeing it?

In the reading for today, Jesus is telling Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, they should have believed. Jesus was too late in getting to Lazarus. His friend had died and was in the tomb several days before Jesus got there. Lazarus’ sisters were very upset and told Jesus, “If you had only been here …”  Jesus wept for his friend. Jesus was also moved out of compassion to do something. He calls out to Lazarus and Lazarus comes out of the tomb alive again. Obviously, his sisters were amazed! Jesus says to them, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” If they had believed fully they would have known Jesus had the ability to raise their brother from the dead. Instead, they saw God’s glory after the miracle had occurred. What would it have been like for them if they believed before the miracle?

Today will you see God’s glory? It starts with believing. Believe that God can and will do amazing things today. Be on the lookout for the glory sightings God has in store for you. It could be as simple as some of the examples in the first paragraph. It could also be as miraculous as divine healing, life transformation, miraculous protection, and so much more. Will you see God’s glory today? Start out the day believing and you will see!

Prayer: Amazing and glorious God, thank you for all you have created. Thank you for creating me just the way I am, for I AM fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to see your glory today in the big and small moments. Empower me to be in tune with your Holy Spirit and aware of your presence. I will be sure to give you the honor and praise. In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

March 9, 2018

Scripture: Luke 10:21a CEB
“At that very moment, Jesus overflowed with joy from the Holy Spirit …”

Have you ever seen pictures or experienced firsthand when cities open a fire hydrant? Usually, cities do this periodically to release pressure from the lines and to ensure that the fire hydrant is working properly. Occasionally, cities have been known to open the fire hydrants when it is really hot. This allows the kids to cool off as the water is released. A New Yorker article featured pictures of kids playing in the water streaming out of the overflowing fire hydrant. Not only was the water cooling everyone down, it was also bringing a lot of laughter and joy. The water was flowing from the source, overflowing out from the pipes underneath the streets through the fire hydrant and offering relief to the people around. What a fun scene and what a great way to offer relief to people on a hot day.

Whenever I read this passage about Jesus, I think of this type of scene. I know there was no water flowing from anywhere near Jesus in this story. However, I can picture in my mind a steady stream of the Holy Spirit flowing from its source in heaven down through Jesus and overflowing out to the people around him. How contagious would it have been to see Jesus overflowing with joy from the Holy Spirit? I would have so loved to be there in that moment. To see Jesus smiling and laughing with joy because of what the Holy Spirit was doing in and through him. To be downright giddy because of what God, the Father, was doing in his midst. What a privilege and pleasure it would be to have witnessed that firsthand.

Have you ever experienced this type of joy from the Holy Spirit? Have you known anyone else who had this type of joy? The people who seem to experience this type of joy are typically very mature in their faith. They seem to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that they feel exceeding joy when the work of the Holy Spirit is accomplished in and through them. The joy will usually manifest itself in excitement, laughter, and contentment. If you have experienced this type of joy, you know that there is nothing quite like it. There also is no doubt that it is from God. In Jesus' case, the overflowing of joy came directly from the Holy Spirit because he was witnessing God revealing God’s purposes to those who needed to see them at the time. It was all part of God’s plan of redemption and the demonstration of God’s great love for humanity in Jesus Christ himself.

Will you pray that the Holy Spirit may cause your spirit to overflow with joy today? If you will commit to do God’s will in all that you think, say, and do today, it very well may happen. Be on the lookout for the movement of the Holy Spirit. Where will you see God move today? As you recognize where God wants to move in and through you, the Holy Spirit will fill you. Give more and more of yourself and yield your will to what God wants for you today. It is in those times that the Holy Spirit can and will overflow out of our life. May you be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s presence and power today and every day.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you for loving me and giving your Son, Jesus, on my behalf. Fill me with your Holy Spirit today. I pray that I will be made less and less today so that you will be made more and more. May your will be done through my thoughts, words, and actions. In the name of Jesus. Amen.   

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