Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Courage For The Road Ahead

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased’” (Mark 1:9-11).

Jesus was standing on the threshold of His earthly ministry. The next three years of His life would include much conflict and turmoil. There would be victories but also many setbacks. Eventually, He would be betrayed, abandoned, and crucified. The view of the road ahead was enough to make even the most courageous man tremble.

Considering the task before Him, what was it that Jesus needed most at this point? An army to help Him conquer His enemies? A well-oiled public relations team to help break down resistance to His message? Political allies who could open doors to advance His agenda with those in power? As Jesus began His life’s work, we find that He had none of these “advantages” – in fact, He actively avoided them.

What was it that Jesus needed most? The affirmation of His Father. And that is exactly what He received as He stepped out on the road to the cross. “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” How those words must have helped to calm whatever anxieties Jesus may have been experiencing! How reassuring it must have been to know that He had the unqualified backing of His Heavenly Father! Is it any wonder that Jesus took everything the world could throw at Him and still completed His mission?

As children of God, we also enjoy the affirmation of our Father. We are emboldened to complete our own missions, even in the face of struggle, because we have the backing of our God. We will overcome, not because of who we are, but because of Whose we are. Paul’s words still ring true: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Point The Way To Jesus

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’” John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:1-4).

John appeared on the scene in the first century A.D. as the promised forerunner of the Messiah. With his distinctive dress and diet, he called to mind the stories the people had heard of the great prophet Elijah. His words were bold and uncompromising: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). He challenged his listeners to make the needed changes in the lives. With humility, he unselfishly pointed others to Jesus. Hearts needed to be prepared to receive the Coming One, the Son of God Himself.

There is a sense in which every Christian shares in the ministry of John. Part of our calling is to help prepare hearts to receive Jesus. Make no mistake -- God is the only One who can change hearts. But we have the privilege of participating in the preparatory work! Notice how Paul reminds us of our place when it comes to saving souls: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6).

Planting and watering is preparatory work. We do it when we speak an encouraging word to others. We do it when we share the burdens of those who are hurting. We do it when we stand up for those who are oppressed or defenseless. Anything we can do to soften hearts helps to pave the way for God’s miraculous work. As we interact with our world this week, let’s look for opportunities to point the way to Jesus!

God loves you!


“But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them, ‘The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses” (Jeremiah 10:10-13).

In chapter 10 of Jeremiah, the prophet is trying to convince his people of the utter foolishness of their idolatrous practices. He does so by contrasting their idols with the real God of heaven. In every way, God proves to be infinitely superior. God is everything that an idol is not. In the verses above, Jeremiah notes four specific areas of contrast. First, God is “true.” There is nothing untrustworthy or unreliable about Him. In comparison, idols are false and represent a system of lies and deception. Second, God is “living.” He is the very source of life. In comparison, idols are dead. They are inanimate objects that are symbols of a lifeless deity. Third, God is “everlasting.” He is ageless and eternal. In comparison, idols are temporary. They are crafted of material things and, consequently, they experience the decay that is common to all material things. Fourth, God is powerful. According to his great might and wisdom, He spoke the universe into existence and continues to direct its operation. In comparison, idols are powerless. They are humanly-devised, humanly-crafted, and depend on human power to do anything.

Why worship a created thing when you can worship the Creator Himself? It is an undeniable fact: “There is none like you, O Lord” (Jeremiah 10:6).

God loves you!