On the verge of celebrating 66 Christmas times I look back with some nostalgia mixed with unspoken regrets. It is too late for some of the career choices I had hoped to make. It is too late for some of the ministry I had once thought I would do. It is too late for more children. It is too late for another talk with Dad, a different way I could have treated my family or even better stewardship of the money that has passed through my hands. But Martha’s encounter with Jesus at the edge of Bethany gives me hope that:
It is never too late for Him to come. It is never too late to listen to His word. His heart has been with me and you every moment of every hour and He has come to share this day with us. Even now; tombs will be opened, grave clothes removed and life renewed at the sound of His voice! No matter the moment, no matter thehour it is never too late for Jesus!
Whenever we meet with open hearts to talk about Him we can be confident that He still draws near!
With all the debate about highly paid kneeling athletes one might be led to believe that racism is something new and shocking. In a way it is good and healthy to be able to talk about right versus wrong but that conversation apparently begins and ends with only one or two subjects. Any conversation about sin in the church seems to run into a dead-end. We don’t want to judge or worse be thought of as hypocritical because of our personal failures. Yet while here on earth, Jesus minced few words when it came to pointing out sin. He regularly pointed out that the Pharisees were adulterers, covetous and in danger of hell for their hard-hearts and attitudes.
The preaching of God’s grace was never meant to end up as an accommodation of sin. Yes we are all weak and we are all in need of a great Savior to forgive us. But sin remains sin. Adultery has grown to be so much the norm that we forget that it still destroys families. Gambling which is simply the marriage of stealing and covetousness continues to march through our nation with new and bigger casinos in every state. The idea of honoring the Sabbath has been so completely abandoned that even a brief Sunday morning feel-good meeting is too inconvenient to sacrifice the chance for overtime pay. Jesus’ sermon on the Mount has lost its message as a revolutionary overthrow of sin and is today looked at as some kind of nice collection of sweet ideas.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15
Maybe those kneeling athletes who have at least started a debate about racism have stumbled onto a starting concept that we as Christians ought to consider following. What would happen if we began to take a stand no matter the price for the things that Jesus taught us to do? What if like the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, people actually knew that we would do without conveniences in order to live for Jesus Christ? What if this year instead of a trip to a theme park we spent a week volunteering in a homeless shelter. What if we turned off the Super Bowl and went to church to pray? Just standing for the national anthem will not move us one inch closer to God while our children grow up without a father or mother in the home because of the failure of yet another marriage. We need to do more than smile and just talk about grace. It is time for the mighty power of that grace to be allowed to radically change our lives and we will discover that there is nothing more joyful, more peaceful and more liberating than being cleansed from real sins by a real God who really sent His Son into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief!
At our local Home Depot service desk I over heard a lady remarking, ” The reason that I have to return this doorbell is that our house is just too big!” Aren’t you glad that as big as God’s house is, His ears are still sensitive enough to hear us when we call? Don’t be afraid to keep on seeking, asking and knocking. It is Jesus Himself who has invited us and He is inside waiting for us to come!
While waiting at the clinic this week I couldn’t help but hear about how brave many think that Ellen Degeneres is. She may be bold, smart, talented and beautiful (not to mention very rich) but brave? Here are just a few who seem brave to me: please feel free to add someone you feel is truly brave.
The doctors and nurses who risked and in some cases gave their lives during the Ebola crisis in West Africa: Our brave men and women of the armed forces who face dangerous situations daily to protect our nation and innocent people in many places around the world: the firefighters who rush into nursing homes to rescue helpless residents or the police officers getting shot at just answering another call of domestic abuse. Yes these ordinary people are the real heroes and heroines. The bravest person who ever lived did not have a Facebook page a Twitter feed or even many faithful followers. He simply gave His life without fanfare or praise. I am so glad He did!
For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. Philippians 2:9 GNB
When I am facing new battles and unknown roads ahead I sometimes forget things. I forget what things I had set out to do this morning. As difficult news struggles to take over page one news in my life it is calming and quietly joyful to remember that there is a name greater than mine. His name is greater than any human friend or enemy. His name is higher than the authority of any diagnoses financial crisis or uncertainty. His is the name calms waves rebukes hurricanes and calls the dead from the grave. It is no joke, no exaggeration, and totally abundantly in control of the universe. What an awesome name! What an awesome God we serve!
Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming,Sitting on a donkey’s colt John 12:14-15
The fact that Jesus chose the most humble animal to ride gives me hope today. I am not powerful, wealthy or amazingly smart. I am just an ordinary person in an ordinary neighborhood with common everyday problems. Why would God, the universe creator, the King of Glory, the awesome, glorious and Holy ruler of all life be accessible to me? Why would I dare even think I could bring my needs for daily bread and forgiveness for my mean-spirited sins to him?
Because according to scripture our king is coming, but not to harshly conquer us who by nature are His enemies. He is coming not to imprison us and cast us into prison or worse. He is coming humbly to take His throne and righteously rule over the life of anyone who will welcome Him into their gates. He knows we are afraid but He is not angry. He understands the feelings of our infirmities and He has shared in our weaknesses. He has been through every temptation we have faced, yet without sin. He has tasted death for every man and woman who has ever lived. He is coming, according to the Father’s plan, to be our king, seated on a donkey, so we will not be afraid. Today is the day to greet our king with palm branches along the path He is coming to our city and He has chosen to give His life for us again today!