Monday, November 23, 2009

The Story of Jesus

This week we wrapped up Every Day Faith with a look at the life of Jesus. I realize that the whole Bible is part of His story, but we took a brief look at some moments He spent on Earth. The first day we studied Matthew 4:1-11 where Jesus is in the desert being tempted by Satan. Jesus, even after fasting 40 days and nights, wielded the most powerful weapon He had-His Word. It can be so easy to just give in to temptations when we're tired or aggravated. However, if we will wield God's word in those moments, then our lives will probably be a lot less stressful.

The next day we looked at Matthew 26:36-46 where Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is such a powerful and moving portion of scripture. It is hard to picture Jesus in this moment. None the less, we see Him wrestling in prayer over His imminent death. The magnitude of this moment seems to be lost on the disciples. They're sleeping. In verse 41 Jesus tells them to watch and pray so that they will not fall into temptation. The power in praying, of taking our concerns to God, is averting those things that might cause us to stumble.

On the third day we focused on Jesus and the woman at the well. In John 4:7-26, we saw how Jesus went against the customs and spoke with the Samaritan woman. At first the conversation is focused on the physical need for water, but moves to the more important spiritual need for living water. It always seemed a bit odd to me that Jesus asked her about her husband in the middle of this dialogue. This time it struck me that Jesus, ever full of grace and mercy, was touching on the one thing that she probably thought made her unworthy of living water.

Next we studied John 13:1-17 where Jesus is in the Upper Room and washes the disciple's feet. The example Jesus sets is so humbling and powerful. He illustrates fully that serving is the greatest part of leadership. No matter what our role is, we should not think ourselves better than another.

Finally we finished the week with Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus is in Galilee and gives the "Great Commission." The command is to go and make disciples, baptize them and teach them. As believers, it is our command too. Spreading the love and hope of Jesus is a privilege. May we all go with the knowledge that Jesus is ever with us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The story of Joseph

Reading and studying the story of Joseph's life was exhausting! His life seemed to follow one major disaster after another. If you read through chapters 37 to 50 in Genesis, you'll see what I mean. Joseph encountered many challenges including living with brothers who hated him, sold him into slavery and pretended he was dead. Then Joseph was wrongfully accused by his master's wife and thrown in jail. And finally, he was forgotten by the friends he made in jail for two years.

The good news is that wherever Joseph landed, he found favor. In Genesis 37, Joseph is favored by his father. In Genesis 39 Joseph is favored by his master Potiphar and the prison warden. Finally in Genesis 41 Joseph has favor with Pharoah. I believe that although Joseph faced many hardships, he did two things that allowed this blessing.

  • Joseph gave his best no matter what situation he found himself in.
  • Joseph gave God the glory for whatever good he was able to do.

Today many of us are facing hardships that, like Joseph, we didn't cause. None the less, they are our reality. Hopefully as we press into God, we too can give our best and God the glory.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Story of Peter

Peter, next to Jesus, is my favorite person to read about in the Bible. His stories tell so much about his personality. For instance, you can read about him leaving everything behind to follow Jesus and think he's courageous. You can read about him walking on the water with Jesus and think he's bold. You can read about him rebuking Jesus and think he's arrogant. Or you can read about him denying Christ and think he's humiliated. Every story that I read about Peter seems to bring out another personality trait. One thing, however, always stands out to me -his passion.

I believe that Peter's passion is what Jesus knew would make him a great leader. In John 21:15-22, Jesus has two conversations with Peter that give clear direction for that passion. In the first conversation, Jesus asks Peter three different times if he loves Him and then tells him to feed and care for his sheep. Jesus seems to be reaffirming an earlier teaching he gave on what the greatest commandment is. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Basically, Jesus is saying love me and love my people. When loving God becomes our first passion, then a natural overflow will be to love His people.

In the second conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21, Jesus tells Peter to follow Him. At first glance it might seem that Jesus is just asking Peter to get up and leave from where they are. However, when Peter notices that John is following behind them and asks Jesus about it, we get clarification. Jesus, seemingly emphatic, tells Peter not to concern himself with John, and says, "You must follow me." It can be easy to get distracted by others when we're passionate. However, as leaders our priority has to be a passionate relationship with Jesus. Then all those that God allows us to lead will know that Christ is the Way---we will be loving God and loving His people.