Thief. Liar. Zacchaeus. He was known as a man that preyed upon the poor. He took money from whomever he could under the pretense of being a lawful man. He was supposed to be an upstanding citizen. He was viewed as the worst of the worst.
Then he sought out Jesus. The reputation he had earned couldn’t affect Christ’s redeeming grace. Zacchaeus was offered a relationship with Him. The world still looked upon Zacchaeus as a sinner. In their eyes he would never be good enough to be a follower of Jesus. But from Jesus’ point of view he was worthy of salvation. He had become a child of His.
The opinion of people doesn’t affect the judgment of Jesus.
You might have lived a life full of corruption. Jesus’ blood can cover any sin. You might be falsely accused but in Jesus you can be blameless. Jesus knows you for who you really are. He sees you as no one else can. And He loves you. He desires to have a relationship with you. A pure relationship in which you don’t allow the opinions of others or the opinion of yourself dictate who you are in Him. A relationship in which you just give yourself to Him completely, hiding nothing.
The angel of The Lord led Philip into the desert. He waited. Soon a chariot traveled toward him. The Spirit told Philip to go to the chariot.
Meanwhile, in the chariot was the treasurer of Queen Candace. He had been reading the scriptures and was intrigued by a prophecy of Isaiah’s about Jesus’ crucifixion. He was unable to comprehend it. He needed someone to explain it to him.
And that’s when Philip and the Ethiopian treasurer met. At the exact time when the treasurer needed teaching Philip was there to teach him. When the treasurer decided that he wanted to live his life for Jesus, Philip was there to lead him to The Lord. After he accepted Jesus as his savior they looked out the window and saw water and the treasurer was baptized.
Timing was key. It was no coincidence that Philip arrived as soon as the treasurer began dwelling on the scripture about Jesus’ sacrifice. It also wasn’t a coincidence that after he was saved they passed by water, in the middle of a desert, to be baptized.
The Spirit had told Philip to go to the chariot at just the right time. Philip didn’t argue that the people within the chariot would refuse him. He didn’t worry that he wouldn’t know what to say. He wasn’t concerned with his surroundings. The Spirit said go and he went. He ran to the chariot.
Philip’s immediate obedience to the Spirit allowed him to be a part of the biggest blessing in a person’s life: coming to Christ.
I Kings 17:8-16
A widowed woman was facing a trying time. She was the sole provider for herself and her son. And she was living in a drought. She was down to the end of her supply. She had gathered two sticks and was going home to make the last meal.
On her way home she met Elijah, the man of God who had prophesied the drought. He asked her for some water. As she turned to go get it he also asked her to make him some food. She argued that she and her son were on the brink of death and that she had only enough ingredients for one last meal.
There was no way that the three of them could be sustained with the amount of food that was left. Elijah’s response: Don’t worry. Go on and make the meal. Just let me eat first then you and your son can eat. God will bless you for taking care of me. You’ll have enough ingredients to get you through the drought.
She did it. She went and made the meal and served Elijah first. And The Lord blessed her just as Elijah said He would.
Have you ever been in that place where the situation didn’t seem like it could get any worse just find out that it could? You had been asked to do the impossible and if you accepted the challenge you would be blessed. But everything in you was telling you to just go find your own way and you’d figure out the details later.
God sees the situations we are in. He knows how difficult they are for us. But, He, in His infinite wisdom, also sees an opportunity to strengthen us, to grow us. If we are willing to go along with His plan, no matter how outlandish it may seem, the blessings will flow.
II Kings 6:8-23
The servant of Elisha thought the Israelites were doomed. The entire camp of Israel was surrounded by the Syrian army. Worried, he went to Elisha and explained the situation as he saw it. Elisha prayed to God, asking Him to open the eyes of the servant. The servant’s eyes were opened and he saw the army of The Lord surrounding them.
When the servant of Elisha received his spiritual vision he was comforted. He knew the power of God was on their side. He also probably thought he knew how The Lord would give them the victory, through a battle.
But The Lord didn’t give the victory to the Israelites through a battle with Syria. Instead he blinded the Syrians and had the Israelites to take them captive and lead them into Samaria. Instead of destroying them there, the Israelites fed them. The Syrians realized the power of the Israelites and their God. They went back home peaceably. The Israelites had obtained victory.
Rarely do we get the details in the plans that God has for us. We make plans of our own to try and line up with what we think God might want. This isn’t a bad thing as long as we are flexible to when God shows us a different path. Because spiritual vision isn’t seeing every detail of the outcome in a situation. Spiritual vision is focusing on the fact that God is with you and then allowing Him to lead.
The children of Israel were given strict directions when choosing a sacrifice for the Passover. They had to choose a first year male goat or sheep, without blemish on the tenth day of the month. Then they had to keep it until the fourteenth day before they were to kill it that evening. Next they were told how to apply it to their doorframe. Strict orders were also given on how to eat and dispose of the sacrifice. Even their dress code and speed at which they ate were dictated to them.
Today a sacrifice for sin is still needed.
Unlike the Israelites, none of the pressure of securing a perfect sacrifice is laid on us. Jesus was the perfect Lamb chosen by God. Jesus came to this earth as the firstborn Son of God and of Mary. He came without spot or blemish and died after living a perfect and sinless life. He met all of the requirements of a perfect sacrifice. God’s choice was perfect.
But, just like the Israelites, we are responsible for what we do with the sacrifice once it has been offered. We have to choose to apply the blood of Jesus to our life. After that He will gladly lead and guide us in every detail of our life if we surrender it to Him.
How grateful we should be that our perfect Lamb has already been chosen and sacrificed. All we have to do was accept it.
Strong friendships all have a common ground on which they are sustained: they are there for each other. If a person suffers a setback a good friend will help them get back on their feet. If a person is in need of comfort a good friend will comfort them. And if a person finds themselves in the middle of conflict a good friend will help them to fight the battle.
Building strong friendships require time, effort and vulnerability. But they are worth the price. Because friendships take so much of us, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the core of these friendships. When he is, our friendships won’t fray and our results will be blessed.
Jesus had died the death of the cross. His body was at Golgotha’s hill. Joseph, a follower of Christ, was said to have “craved the body of Jesus”.
Joseph boldly approached Pilate, the very man who sent Jesus to be crucified,
to ask if he could take the body of Jesus.
Joseph, out of love, honor and respect for The Lord risked his reputation and his life to love Christ.
Is your craving for Christ this powerful within you? Are you willing to risk whatever needed to show the world, to show Jesus, that you love Him more than you love yourself?
Jesus had a craving to be with you. He showed this love for you when he left heaven to pay your sin debt.
Streets of gold. Walls of jasper. Gates of pearl. No sickness. No heartache. No temptation. No sin. Thousands worshipping Jesus. What a beautiful place heaven must be!
Jesus left it all to go to earth, filled with sickness, temptation, heartache and pain. To go to a place where He would be rejected, scorned, beat and eventually crucified.
He did that for you. You are so loved.
Throughout the Bible we are given beautiful descriptions of a river with fruitful trees growing along the banks of it. This picture of God’s creation is also a description of our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus is that river. He is our source of life. The fruitful trees are us, followers of Christ. We gain life and strength because our roots are connected to Him. To know that Jesus, the River of Life, is supplying our need for survival is humbling. Rooted in Him we can be found not only living but growing and producing fruit. He is the Giver of Life and we are the recipients, flourishing under His care.
If we look to see God in His creation then we can learn so much about ourselves and The Creator. We will find ourselves drawing closer to Him, in awe of the beauty and symbolisms of His creativity.