He Remains

2 Timothy 2:13 ESV If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself

The Christmas bells are safely packed away in their cases and the small nativity scene has returned to its box. Though the wise men still stand above the china cabinet it will not be long before they are sent back to their far country on a shelf in the garage. This week between Christmas and New Year is quiet with the anticipation of what lies ahead and a sad sweetness of the end of our celebration of the birth of Jesus. – And yes, I know that December 25th was probably not the day he was laid in the manger, but today I wanted us to look back at that moment one more time to remind ourselves of what remains. Jesus remains and today’s verse tells us that He remains faithful.

Every day of the year is the day that our Lord has made, and every night is another night in the stable of our hearts where Jesus comes to be born in the middle of our mess. A New Year is already in the books somewhere in the world, but God is more interested in the calendar of our hearts than the calendar on our walls. If we make a time and a place for Him, He will come to bring light into our dark and empty places. But if we choose to go our own way and deny Him by our life’s choices, Jesus still remains. He is the I am. He is Alpha and Omega. He is the author and the editor of our faith and of all history. He remains, never packed away, never out of season, never failing. Thank God for such an amazing and mighty Savior; and, in the year, that ahead the best news of all is that He remains!

Let’s Change the World!

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

It is popular to say that, “We want to change the world.” and considering all the changes brought on by the Corona virus, the elections and the ongoing divisions in our society,  we have certainly seen a lot of change. “But we are talking about positive change!” you might respond, so then I would ask, “How would you suggest we change the world for the better? Would you propose building a large social media platform, or inventing a new product or service? Should we run for political office or join others in the street to protest for change?” Amazingly the one person who has changed the world the most did none of these things. Jesus Christ never held a position, owned a home or traveled the world.   He talked about the kingdom of God, healed the sick and encouraged the rejected people of his day. But when His popularity grew till large crowds began following Him, He sent them away to go up on a mountain and pray.  

If we carefully read the New Testament accounts of His life we find that; yes Jesus was interested in changing our world, but He had a tactic far different than ours. Instead of finding the best arenas to fill, He went to obscure places filled with people in need, and when He got there, Jesus usually chose one single person to talk to. The woman at the well and another about to be stoned each left His presence, changed forever. A young man about to be buried was raised from the dead (Now that’s a change!) and a leper on the outskirts of a village was cleansed and healed. But perhaps the most notable – since the Bible devotes an entire chapter to him- is the blind man in today’s verse who was sitting at the corner of a busy city street. Maybe the Bible does not reveal his identity because God wants us to know that any one of us can be like him.

We don’t need to be important, well financed or talented for God to take an interest in us. It doesn’t matter to Jesus what other people’s opinions about us are. God wants us to know that He hasn’t forgotten about us. He reassures our hearts that our problems are not too hard for Him to solve and that if we just put our trust in Him, that He will change our world forever. Then through our lives, no matter what anyone else thinks, God will be glorified. Now tell me, “What change is any better than that?”!

Launching Out Again

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”  Luke 5:5

My grandfather was the captain of a destroyer during the war and long after retirement he remained firmly in command of the ship at home. Though we loved him dearly, we grandchildren learned to respond quickly whenever He barked “All hands on deck!” when it was time for chores; or “No excuses sir!” if we got caught doing something wrong. But one of his favorite sayings happened when we made excuses. He would pause with a smile, then point his finger directly at whoever was the excuse maker and say; “No if’s and’s or but’s”

Maybe Peter had a grandfather a lot like mine, because when Jesus asked him to go back out into deeper water to throw his net out again he simply obeyed. When Peter said, “I will let down my nets” he knew that meant that he would need to load them back in the boat, then call his brother and some of his friends and go back out after having worked all night. Last of all he had to throw the heavy, water soaked net back into the water with the possibility that it would just come back in empty again. It would have been a lot easier to say, “I’m so tired Jesus, why not ask John or James?” But none of those excuses kept Peter from obeying Jesus. He trusted what Jesus said by a faith he probably didn’t yet fully understand and launched out.

When God calls me or you to launch out with him we often have plenty of if’s and’s or but’s. “If you first give me this Lord, then I’ll be happy to obey.” or “And what about my sister, why can’t she do it this time?” or even “But Lord you know I always mess this up!” But God did not call someone else. He is not interested in a faster or more efficient way of getting things done. What He cares about is teaching us to trust Him. So instead of wasting time with our “if’s and’s or but’s ; why not just load up our nets, and launch out into the deep? Until we let down our nets we’ll never know what God can do to fill them!