Today we want to thank you for your goodness, that you are always with us, and that you never give up on us. You are our refuge and strength, and you are always ready to help us in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Today, with COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and many other oppressed minority groups striving to make changes against the evil effects of racism and exclusion, we need your help, God. Lord we know You are close to us when we are brokenhearted and you save us when we are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Please heal and transform us, both physically, emotionally, spiritually, completely.
In the places of our lives that the media doesn’t see, in our families, workplaces, friend groups, and everyday places of our lives, we pray for healing, breakthrough, provision, and redemption in every area, in Jesus’ name. This time of social distancing is an opportunity for us to turn to You, God, for your help and restoration in our lives. Please help us focus during this time on what really matters, and has always mattered – You. Please change our perspectives, change our minds from scattered, anxious, and complacent, to finding your goodness in every area of our lives.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus is the Word, He is the Life, He is the Light.
As Christians, we find our Life and Light in Jesus. There is power in Jesus, the Word; there is power in the Bible, the Words of Jesus.
2. As Christians, like John, we have a responsibility not to be the life and light to others on our own strength, but to point others to Jesus, who is the Life and Light of the world.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
It changes how we talk to others about Jesus if we realize it’s not dependent on us evangelizing to others, but rather understanding that we are simply bringing light to the fact that Jesus is the True Life and Light, we are only witnesses pointing to Jesus.
When Jesus rose from the grave, most of the world was still sad from His death not too long ago. And that’s where these two guys were at. They were moping along the Road to Emmaus when Jesus meets up with them and asks them what’s wrong. But they didn’t recognize that it was Jesus.
So, they’re like “Dude, don’t you know what’s up?” And so they explain to Him about the hope they had in Jesus, thinking that He was going the one to finally save them but now that Jesus was dead, and so everything was lost.
They were hopeless and confused.
Luke 24:25-27, “He [Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
See in our lives, we find ourselves hopeless and confused too. Even though Jesus has saved us from our sins, even though He is watching over us and providing for our every need, there are still a lot of times where we think we should give up.
I’ve been wanting, and feeling called to be a pastor for the last three or four years now and I finally had this conversation that nobody could have orchestrated except Jesus Himself where I finally opened up about wanting to be a pastor. I had been scared to open up about this for a while, and when I finally had the opportunity and the truth rolled off my tongue, it was only a work of Jesus.
Jesus had saved the day.
In those times when we start to believe that we’re approaching a dead end doomed for hopelessness and confusion, stop yourself. If Jesus rose from the dead, He can get you out of your situation, He can give you an alternative, He will make a way, because He’s done it before and He will do it again. When He died on the cross, it wasn’t permanent and neither is that problem on your mind. God will get you through it. All you need to do is trust Him.
Because Jesus has saved the day. And He’ll be there to provide in your darkest hour too. He’s always claimed the victory when He rose out of the grave, it’s time you changed your perspective toward this victory too. Halleujah!
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be countedworthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus is warning here about being prepared for His return as the entire Bible talks about from the Old Testament to, especially, Revelation. In my search on BlueLetterBible to define some of the key words in this passage:
1) “watch” or “be careful” is defined as being sleepless, keeping awake, watching, to be circumspect, attentive, ready. I really like the terminology of “being sleepless” as a way to compare to how we should be alert to Jesus’s approaching return.
2) “pray” is defined as recognizing a lack, wanting, desiring, longing for, asking for, begging, make supplications for. I love this because prayer shouldn’t just be another thing we do in the mornings or evenings since we call ourselves “Christians,” but really something that is the CORE of our beings, something that we NEED to do, as we have problems, recognizing how much we need Jesus and constantly asking for His help, because we need it.
Okay, so we need to be careful and we need to pray.
But then why is this so important? What’s the point?
In Luke 21, leading up to these verses, Jesus talks about different events and themes that we can expect when things are leading up to His return. Famine, war, disesase, earthquakes, breakdown of morals, confusion, persecution, and division in families and between friends. Some of which we’ve already seen in our recent history with COVID-19, World War 1 and 11, the popularitiy of relative truth over the aboslute truth of God’s Word, etc.
So Jesus is coming, whether we’re prepared for it or not.
And if we’re not prepared, we will live an eternity apart from Jesus. So in order to avoid the pain, suffering, and eternal separation from God in Hell that will come to the Christians who are not prepared, we need to watch and pray during this time, in order to not get distracted; to stay focused on Jesus.
This is the reason why.
3) “escape” is defined as seeking safety in flight, flee out of, or flee away. I love the definition of “seeking safety in flight” because it reminds me that this world, this earth is not our home. As Christians, this world is temporary which points to the whole point of “in flight,” where we are moving towards Christ in the glimpses and encounters we receive of God, that we will one day be able to witness God in His entirity in Heaven.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Our peace is not attached to anything else except Jesus. No matter what our lives look like, no matter what’s going on, we can find peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7) in whatever circumstance, understanding that this is all temporary and that we have a responsibility as Christians to escape the distractions, temptations, and anything that fulls our attention away from God by watching and praying as Jesus says in this passage.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Last week I was so caught up in studying for my final exam that anything interfering with that, whether it be a loved one asking me to watch a movie or just wanting to chat with me, was a chore. I didn’t want to do anything but get just a little further in my studying and things needing to be done. And watching a movie or simply playing a board game was just painful. Not to say that working hard is not good, but I think my intentions were not in the right place. I was working more that I’d “look good” in my work than actually doing the work for others, or even God.
The word “life” in Greek is psychē which refers to the physical life we humans experience on earth.
Last week I was clearly more focused on a very insignificant (though very real) part of life, which is work. But here Paul is saying that his earthly life is not worth much to him, instead his earthly life is dedicated all for Jesus. But it’s interesting that he still values his ministry, which the act of telling others about God and discipling them is still an “earthly work”. The difference is that Paul recognizes that his ministry is for God and not primarily for his self- glorification or for the churches he goes to help. He concludes that it is all for God, to “complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
So how can I change how I look at work?
Instead of getting narrowminded in only seeing me and my work, I need to open my mind to see the bigger picture that God is on the throne (and I am not).
Spending more time with God in gratitude (everything I do is a “thank you” back to Him) and recognizing that I need His help in everything I do
“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Matthew 8:2 NIV
It may seem like a simple thing that the man with leprosy is doing: asking God for help, but how often do we actually ask God for help in our own problems?
What I mean to say is: do we actually humble ourselves before God acknowledging that we are not capable of doing or fixing something ourselves? I know for myself I prefer to assume God already knows my problems so I don’t need to tell Him. I don’t like being in a place where I’m stuck and where I’m not in control. I don’t want to acknowledge my “failure” of not having something perfect to God because then I think I’m a failure too.
But I’m slowly recognizing that I need God’s help. God already knows this but it’s I who needs to humble myself to fully recognize the reality that I’m an imperfect person in constant need of God’s perfect providence.
Then with the man with leprosy, I can say, “LORD, if you are willing, can you give me a hand.”
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” — Jeremiah 17:7-8
My trust needs to be in God first and foremost and only, no one else. Not in myself, my abilities, or in the close people around me.
Then and only then when I trust in God will I flourish. This is not saying I should ignore all the blessings God has given me, but I need to ask myself:
Where am I finding my security? Where am I depending and fully putting my weight upon, and is that platform (whether God, your abilities, a person) able to fully supported you?
“Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
The line “be strong and and courageous” is repeated a lot throughout the bible usually next to “do not worry” or “do not fear”. It’s a reminder the Israelites needed to hear and one we should embrace too.
No matter what the situation may look like, God has a plan. We need to trust him no matter what that He knows more than we do about what the future holds. We don’t have to worry or fear a thing because God’s got this. So instead we have the freedom to be strong and courageous as He commands us to.
“Come down from your glory and sit on the parched ground, you inhabitants of Daughter Dibon, for the one who destroys Moab will come up against you and ruin your fortified cities.”
In other words, I think God is telling me through this passage that I need to get off my “high horse” of thinking that I am the next Christine Caine, Lysa Terkeurst, or some other famous Christian celebrity and actually just “sit on the parched ground” for a while.
I’m not as important as I think. Yes, it’s true.
And it is God who deserves the glory, not me.
I’ve been noticing that this “pride” I have is not only in my future aspirations of wanting to be a pastor, but also in my close relationships. Sometimes I can get so full of myself that I literally cannot comprehend what I have done wrong. Which is probably super frustrating to my family and fiancé, as I am so convinced that I am just their perfect, God-honouring daughter, sister or partner to ever mess up.
I need to change my focus, not only so that God gets the glory (which is the main reason), but also for better connections with my family and my beloved fiancé.
There’s a lot at stake when we choose our “glory” over God’s and it’s often in the “sitting on the parched ground” when we finally realize how undeserving we really are of any “glory”. It’s here where we find the right perspective where humility is worth more than any illusion of perfection we might be blinded by.
“If only there was someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.”
I think Job is longing Jesus’ future coming.
See at the time, Israelites had to deal with their sins and inadequacy directly with God, which at the time really emphasized God’s wrath and justice (though we know that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow -Hebrews 13:8).
But here Job is predicting and hoping for someone to mediate between God and him, which we all know is Jesus Christ who God sent down to earth to pay for our sins by sacrificing Himself on the cross so that we didn’t have to pay for our sins, but that we could experience life and appear to God now washed in Christ’s holiness and perfection, which overlooks the wrath and justice that Job fears (but is still there because God is still the same God, but things are different now with Jesus).
This is something that we experience today, though it was something that Job could only look forward to. Thank you Jesus!