But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Luke 9:55
Shame says to people, “You’re not a good enough Christian,” “Get more Christian,” “Seriously, why aren’t you the best Christian ever by now, I’ve been saying this like forever…?” In some ways, shame can be really good at getting us moving – but often in the wrong direction: “Wow, I am awful, I’d better keep my head down.” The problem is, when we hear and take in the message of shame, our lives get smaller and we shrink into ourselves. We barricade off our world and live far smaller than what God has planned. If you’ve ever been embarrassed or shamed by others in church, or called out in a sermon, know this: love is the main way to grow healthily. God’s way is release. Conviction (His wake-up call to sin) leads that way. Condemnation (wallowing in fear, guilt, and/or embarrassment over that sin) doesn’t; it loops you back into yourself. He only calls you out on sin to get it out of your way, let Him fix you up and pull you into Him. Shame isn’t God’s tool to force you to bow to Him. If you feel yourself being convicted of something, deal with it, be turned away from it and walk on in the right direction, knowing that God’s grace and forgiveness is always there.
Heavenly Father, help me to change things that You want me to change so I can be the person You want me to be. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Luke 9:46
Do you remember being little and having those ‘my dad’s best’ arguments? Then, we got older and it stopped being about mom and dad – and it became all about us. We don’t often say it out loud (at least not in church), but in reality, our hearts can often drift towards a judgmental, self-promoting spirit, bigging us up, assuming we’re better than other people. It makes us feel secure. Well, it’s good to know it’s not a new thing. Jesus – in His thirties – found Himself hanging around with a bunch of guys who got to arguing about the oh-so-mature topic of… ‘Who will be the greatest?’ Have you noticed, a lot about ‘living for God’ is living in opposites? Loving your enemies instead of hating them. Forgiving people instead of making them pay. Well, when Jesus was dealing with this argument over greatness, He didn’t quote a great philosopher to make His point. Instead, He pointed at a child. Whoever takes the time to do the humble things, like welcoming a child naturally, without fuss, welcomes Him and the One who sent Him, says Jesus.
Heavenly Father, humble me to see others as Your valuable children and to treat them as the precious gifts they are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Being In Tune
“Who touched Me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.” Luke 8:45
Jesus suddenly stops in a marketplace and says ‘Who touched Me?’ No one owns up. Peter, with an almost “You can’t be serious, Boss?”’ tone, speaks up, ‘“Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me”’ (vv. 45-46). Jesus knew the difference between the clumsy bump of a passer-by and a deliberate faith-filled grasp. Where Peter was led by the lack of response in the natural (no one spoke up), Jesus was led by something more supernatural. Jesus knew what had happened through something other than His human senses; He knew it in His spirit. He knew that, because of her illness, the woman held back from making herself known. She was seen as cursed by the people. Now this same woman, made whole, dropped at Jesus’ feet, trembling. Because Jesus called her, she responded.
It’s vital to our growth as Christians that we start to have the Jesus-like response, rather than the Peter-style response. In Christian-ese, we must control our thoughts to live under God-given discernment. That is, when God gives you an extra, non-see-hear-taste-touch-smell nudge to identify something that would otherwise be difficult to know. The best way to find that is to get closer to Jesus. The closer you are to Him, the clearer you’ll be able to see those hard-to-spot spiritual things. Our Comfort Dogs have a natural ability to sense when a person is hurting – and move toward that person. If we humans could by God’s Spirit do the same, we would see more of what Jesus sees.
Heavenly Father, help me see and sense when someone is hurting, and then stop and listen and touch and share Your presence with that person. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:24
Recognize this situation? You’re lacking sleep. It’s late, maybe around midnight. And your thoughts go a bit… well, dark. This is a top time for doubt (over real life stuff, God’s goodness, or fear of something not quite explainable) to convince you that it’s just been lurking under the surface and is now coming out in full force. Sometimes it can even feel like, despite your Christianity and despite yourself, there are other cruel secrets of reality out there, and that a deep-level knowledge of them has been lurking somewhere below your faith in God.
Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever wonder why it happens? Don’t worry. You’re definitely not alone. It happened to the disciples in a night-time thunderstorm. To them, in the moment, doubt and fear felt like everything there was to reality. Here’s the thing though: these sorts of doubts don’t sum you up and they’re not the full measure of you. You can be aware of dangerous, not-from-God thoughts trying to get at you, but you don’t have to be scared. In the Bible the ‘enemy’ is described as prowling around ‘like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). Watch out for that. But know there’s hope – there’s a Mystery, deeper still, beyond the darkness.
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen. (Luther’s Morning Prayer)
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) Luke 9:33
Ever find yourself saying the wrong thing, at just the wrong time? Never fun, is it? Peter had a tendency to spill exactly what was on his mind. This meant sometimes he was spot on with what he said, sometimes he was way off, and other moments physically putting his foot in his mouth would actually have been more constructive than carrying on the conversation. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus praises Peter and says he’s blessed, but just a few verses on down, Peter puts his foot in his mouth (again) and Jesus has to knock him down a peg (Matthew 16:17, 23). Sounds like most of us, right? Striding along confidently for God one minute, then falling over our own feet the next.
Well, God gave out some pretty good advice that could help us all. When Jesus, Moses and Elijah were having a mountain-top meeting with Peter, James and John, Peter got pretty carried away, babbling on and on at Jesus. God dropped in, and intervened by saying, ‘This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him’ (Luke 9:35). They were all speechless after hearing that. We can all use a bit of redirection sometimes. That ‘listen to Jesus’ refocus can be a make or break thing. The more you listen to God, the less you’ll say things that He wouldn’t want.
Heavenly Father, help me to listen more to You and talk less. In Jesus’ Name, Amen