Can you imagine a world without love? Have you ever wondered how long our society would last without it? Of course there are times when love seems distant, lacking or completely gone. But look again. Love is in there and it’s at work. Love will bring healing and new life. Love is under every sound business deal, in every good marriage, at work in classrooms where teachers teach and students learn. Has anyone ever let you merge in heavy traffic? That’s love in action. Sometimes we see best what we seek most earnestly. Look for love. It’s there.
Lord, we thank you for your steadfast love, which endures forever. Amen.
It’s actually true—less is more. Jesus tried to be a humble servant. In doing so, he was exalted and his name was lifted above all names. He wasn’t striving to be lifted up. He was striving to be obedient. All of us seek ways to be honored. “Do you know who I saw last week?” we ask our friend after an encounter with a celebrity. “May I have your autograph?” we beg, so we’ll have proof of our brush with greatness. We hope our status might climb if we connect with someone mighty. Jesus wasn’t looking for the limelight. He was looking for the hungry, the naked and the lowly. He was looking to serve. That’s why his name is above all names. That’s why he is worthy of our worship and praise.
Lord, let me serve you by being a humble servant to others. Amen.
It is easy to feel small and unimportant in the world, easy to believe that our small accomplishments cannot really make a difference. We see a big world, with all its trouble and woe, and wonder if our piddly contributions make any impact at all. We ask ourselves, “Does my life count?” At such times, we need to consider a candle. How small and quiet and unassuming is the light of one candle. Yet all the darkness in the world cannot overcome it. One candle’s light dispels all the darkness. Just one. You are a child of the light. Just one. Shine.
Lord, make me your child of the light and help me shine. Amen.
I was there for two weeks on a mission trip. Our goal was to dedicate a well, conduct a medical outreach, hold nightly services for the gospel to be preached, and ultimately plant a church.
Many people seem to ask about what it is like in places like Nigeria. I usually tell them its a lot like here. Although our country enjoys many luxuries that the rest of the world can only hope for, I still see more similarity than difference. The human condition appears to be the same all around the world. We are a broken and messy humanity. Africa, Asia, and America…we are not too different.
We all are just struggling to get by, struggling to numb the pain of a fallen world, struggling to pretend that we are ok, or strong, or proud, or special, or unique. When there is scarcity of resources, even the best of us will happily overlook the so-called integrity we say we believe in. I have learned that even my best deeds are often tainted with selfish ambition.
In some places in the world they fight starvation, we fight obesity. Some fight for survival, we fight rising suicide rates. Some fight for freedom, we fight the deadly disease of apathy. Everywhere you go people have their own set of struggles and problems. For many this leads to a loss of hope…
Whats strange is, I often find this loss of hope to be found in Christians. I hear them say things like, “this world is just getting worse and worse and we just have to wait for Jesus to come back.” I hear things like, “I can’t believe how bad this world is, Jesus just needs to come judge all these sinners.”
At the heart of the Christian faith there is this idea that God Himself came to Earth to visit humanity. What he saw 2,000 years ago probably was not much different than today. There’s still oppression, violence, poverty, corruption, etc. The God that is found in the Gospels however, takes a different approach to losing heart. He does not just call followers to believe in Him and wait for Him to come back one day.
He sends them on a mission. A mission to fix this broken, messy, ugly place we call home. God says he loves the world so much, that despite the obvious problems he wants to save it… rather than destroy it.
In the Christian world many of us have bought into the lie that says God wants to save us FROM the world. However, the gospels tell us that the saving purpose of God did not happen to save us FROM the word, but in order that God’s Kingdom might come to Earth as it is in HEAVEN. What we call the “Lord’s Prayer” is the prayer of God himself trying to bring Heaven’s way to Earth.
God is on a mission to save the world. When you say you are a Christian, you become apart of the greatest movement in human history, a movement to save the world. And although many bad and terrible things have been done in the name of Jesus, all across the world there are more hospitals, orphanages, houses of compassion, and good deeds being done in his name that any other figure in History. The Christian prayer is not that God would saves us from the world, but that he would bring His Kingdom to the world we call home. So we are meant to live, and breath, and sacrifice, and suffer, and give in a way that shows this world there is something worth hoping for; something worth believing in. We give this broken world a foreshadow of what God’s Kingdom will look like when he is finally done sorting out this mess that we have created.
All of this to say, the world is one messed up place. But God is not content to leave it that way, he is on a mission to fix it. If you are a Christian, by definition you are on a mission to join him in this process. Whether that be on the other side of the world in Africa, or across the street where you know the loving message of Jesus is needed. Our faith is not one that just goes to Church on Sunday so we can learn to be nice people and wait for Jesus to come back, our faith is a faith in a God who does not give up. Our faith is in a God who is reconciling all things unto him. Our God has NOT given up on the world, and nor should we.
Wow, this is way longer that I first imagined. If you got through it…congrats. May His Kingdom and His Will come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Pastor Isaac Serrano
It was impossible for Jesus to be held in death’s power. Impossible. What a strong word. Death never stood a chance. There are times when it appears that death has the upper hand. We hear story upon story of death’s seeming grip on the human family. Everything dies: institutions, marriages, friendships, people. Judging from appearances, we could only conclude one thing: It is impossible to defeat death. Not with Jesus. No, Jesus is the life-giver. Jesus resurrects institutions, friendships, marriages and people. It is impossible for death to conquer Jesus. Impossible.
Lord, help me see your resurrection power at work in the world. Amen.
“How can young people keep their ways pure?” the Psalmist asks. It’s a very good question. When you stop and consider all the ways there are for young people to go wrong, it’s a wonder any of them goes right. Yet what young people seek is no different than what any of us seeks. They want to know that they belong, that they matter to someone, that they are loved. They want to make a significant contribution to the human family. What they need to know is that they are children of God. They do belong. They do matter. They are loved. Bring them into God’s family. Make them full members of the household of faith. Give them something important to do. And you will have them forever.
Lord, help us see the young people with your eyes and love them with your heart. Amen.
Jesus says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “Your brother will rise again.” That’s quite a promise. Can Jesus keep it? It should not surprise us if we are skeptical. For one thing, it is a very hefty promise. Also, we have heard our share of promises and had our share of disappointments. Promises, it seems, are far easier to make than they are to keep, and it’s up to the one making the promise to keep it. Jesus makes no empty promises, here or anywhere. He goes to the tomb where Lazarus has been laid and brings him forth from the dead, just as he said he would. Jesus makes promises. And he keeps them.
Lord, as you kept your promise to Martha so keep your promise to be the resurrection and the life of all who trust in you. Amen.
Jesus is not an innovation or detour in the story of God’s relationship with God’s many children. This is a basic thesis of each of the Gospel writers. Here, at the close of Luke’s narrative, Jesus helps his disciples understand the Scriptures to demonstrate that the seemingly shocking and shameful crucifixion was actually central to God’s plan. God’s promises have remained in effect and are wholly irrevocable. In these verses, Jesus prepares his followers for the difficult days ahead, too incredible to believe. They would be his witnesses even in those dark days. They would be bearers of God’s precious gift in the form of the Holy Spirit.
The images of Revelation are both fascinating and distressing. They emerge from communities of faith trying to make sense of a senseless world. Theirs was a world marked by the dominance of an imperial force that controlled every aspect of their lives. A distant power shaped every minute of every day, and could at any moment choose to end life as they knew it. Revelation confesses faith in a God who is ever present, ever powerful, ever just. This God might share some attributes with the powerful emperor, but they are as different as night and day. The powerful destroy the earth and oppress the people. God breathes life and justice at every moment.
The Greek term from which we get our word “apocalypse” means “unveiling” or “revelation.” As a piece of apocalyptic literature, Revelation reveals something to the world that could not have otherwise been known. Such revelation is so great that it requires powerful, mysterious images to communicate it. Much is revealed in Revelation, and yet when the seven thunders speak, John is required to seal those words away. Why include this moment of obscurity in a book of revelation? Perhaps here we see the very essence of faith as that powerful combination of hope and uncertainty.