Jesus Prayed for Me

Jesus prayed for me. It seems like every time I read the Bible, I discover new things. Yes I know the stories and essentially know how it flows from Genesis to Revelations, but when you dig deep into verses and really think and pray about them, new avenues open up.  Always!

This morning I was just flipping pages in the Bible and started to skim across John 17. What really caught my eye at the time was the human added section headers, which read “Jesus Prays for Himself”. Then a little later on in the chapter, “Jesus Prays for His Disciples” and then the one that caused me to pause, “Jesus Prays for Future Believers

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. – John 17:20

He prayed for all of us. He prayed for me, for you, for our parents, and grandparents. He prayed for our children, our grandchildren, and our great-great-great-great grandchildren to come. He prayed for the rich and the poor, for the healthy and the sick. He prayed for those that were believers their entire lives, to those who only believed moments before their death. He prayed for all believers even though we are all sinners.

This simple sentence, became so profound to me today. I’m sure I’ve read it before, but today I really noticed it. Jesus went to His father in prayer for me, 2000 years ago. Pretty cool stuff.

Act Like Men

In my last post I shared a recent sermon on being a Gift to woman. The sermon if from a series our church is doing called, “Last Man Standing”. I woke up this morning at 4am, unable to sleep and came down and began thinking about the next post I wanted to write. I went back and began watching the first sermon in the series, entitled Men or Boys. Follow the link and watch if you desire, it really is good.  This post feeds off of that sermon.

This sermon was one that has moved me greatly, perhaps more than most. It reminds us that we were made men by God, and we should act like it. Now this may go against what our common culture teaches us today. Today, we don’t want boys to act like boys and we don’t like it when men act like men. But what does “acting like men” really mean?

In Genesis 1:27, we read;

So God created people in His own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.

God created us to reflect his image in us. He created men to be fully men, to show the masculinity of God, to provide the protection of God, to have the strength of God, the initiative of God. To reflect the God that is always watching, always on guard. We are meant to reflect that half of God. When some part of that is missing in us, we are missing the full likeness of God. We are missing what God intended us to be. If we don’t have an example of that in our lives, we were not shown the full likeness of God.

I am lucky and have a father that was a great example to me. He was strong and hard working, yet was always present in our lives and loved us unconditionally. Even when I was being disciplined, or I had disappointed him, I knew he still loved me. He was quiet yet you always knew that with him there, we were protected. So not only can I look to Jesus, but my earthly father showed me what it was like to be a man.

Women, you were created to reflect the other half of God. The compassion, the nurture, the love of God. If we don’t have the mother figure in our lives or one that was absent, we miss that half of God.

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth when he wrote these words. And note that he was speaking to the entire church.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.  -1 Corinthians 16:13

When he was saying be men of courage, he was telling us…to act like men. And not just us flawed men, but to act like the true man. As the title of the sermon series says, The Last Man Standing. Jesus, was the only man that lived the way a man is meant to live. We need to look towards Jesus whom reflected the glory and image of God.

We men are called to have the strength and courage of God to call it how it is. To have the initiative of God to speak out when we see sin. To have the truth of God in us to know what is not OK. We are called to be on guard and protect those we love. We as men need to stand up and be leaders.

What happens when we don’t? Well lets look back to Adam and Eve.

So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it too. -Genesis 3:6

Eve tends to get the bad reputation for being tempted and eating of the fruit. But Adam was with her! He was not acting like a man and keeping guard. He did not lead like God intended him to.

So men, be on your guard. Watch and pray for those in your life. Be present in their lives. Don’t just coast when you’re at home, with your family. Let them see you pray and make them a priority in your life.

Men, stand firm in the faith and be strong. Men we were made to fight. When we see the enemy coming at our family or at ourselves, use the weapons that God has given us and fight. Jesus taught us how to fight the enemy. But be tethered to God. Weapons are useless if we aren’t tethered to the one who gives us power.

Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” -John 19:10-11

Through the victory that Jesus had on the cross, he disarmed the enemy. Men, stand firm and look to the last man standing when the enemy comes your way.

Do everything in love. Let them see you live it out. People don’t care what we say, but what we do. Love them in the small, boring moments that no one but they will see. I’ve seen those who like to help those who have less, who need assistance. But it is not done from love, it is done selfishly to be sure that everyone sees how great they are. It is done to show others how generous THEY are, not to glorify God. They speak compassionately and actually do some kind things, but their actions towards those they love, their family and friends tell otherwise. I’ve stated before in another post, our lives may be the only Bible some people read.

I will end this post, the same way our sermon ended. With a short clip from the movie Courageous.

This applies to me as my heart is willing and courageous.

In my home, the decision has already been made.
You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will.
You don’t have to ask who will teach my children to follow Christ, because I will.
Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will.
Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will.
Who will pray for and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father. I will.

I accept this responsibility, and it is my privilege to embrace it.
I want the favor of God and his blessing on my home.

It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say, “I will. I will. I will.”

God is with us!

Merry_christmas_jesus-4
She will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel — ‘God is with us.’ – Isaiah 7:14

This is the time of year we mark with celebrations of the birth of Jesus.   When the angel came to Joseph, he was told that Mary would give birth to a son and they were to name him Jesus, which means “The Lord saves” and then proceeds to tell Joseph that this fulfills the prophecy from Isaiah 7.  So here we have two names for Jesus, his given name meaning “the Lord saves” and one of the titles that he will be known as, Immanuel, “God is with us”

When God is with us, who can come against us.  Many will try, but the Lord saves us.

The Lord saves us from our sins, because God is with us.

The Lord blesses us, so we can be a blessing to others.  Why?  Because God is with us!

The Lord comforts those in need.  How?  Well God is with them.

The Lord uses circumstances to teach us, to help us grow.  When?   Always, since God is with us.

The Lord gives us freedom when we walk with him.   How?  Well, because God is with us!

Remember this time of year that God is with us, always, that’s the promise that Jesus gives us.

Walk with Jesus

I’m on a vacation this week from work.  We are not going away to the beach or going camping or anything like that.  We’re just hanging out around home and going about life as normal for the most part.  Oh, we’ll take little day trips here and there, take the kids to the zoo, maybe go to the lake for a while to fish….things like that, but no big, headed out of state, vacation.  We’re going to take life as it comes this week.

We live and work in such a high-paced society that even when we are to “relax” on vacation, the pace is still hectic.  We never get a chance to just unwind.  This week I want to unwind and walk with Jesus as he walked with the two men to Emmaus.

At church we’ve been going through a teaching series of “Where have we met Christ in our lives?”, and this week we talked about Luke 24:13-34.  I won’t repeat it all here, go read it, but let me lay out some background for you.  It’s the day of the Resurrection and two of Jesus’ followers are walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  Jesus appears to them (though they did not recognize him yet as they were so focused on their own problems and disappointments) and begins to walk and talk with them.  These men failed to realize that Christ’s suffering was his path to glory.  So Jesus spends the rest of the time on the walk to teach them Scripture and how it all leads to Jesus.

So let’s step back from this a moment and think about it.  Here are these two guys, one who is not named (the other we find out is named Cleopas) and their only supposed mention in all of the Bible is in the parallel story in Mark 16.  We know nothing about their background, other than they were followers of Jesus before his crucifixion.  They are walking to a small village 7 miles away from where they start.  Jesus appears and they begin to talk with and eventually be taught by Jesus.  How long does it take to walk 7 miles?  Probably a couple hours if walking at a normal speed, but let’s slow that down a bit since they were having a deep conversation, so let’s suppose it takes them 4 hours.

So there was Jesus, on the biggest day of his ministry…..the day he defeated death and he is spending 4 hours talking with two seemingly random people.  Jesus, could have just appeared to them and said “I am Jesus, the son of the living God, resurrected from death to wash away your sins” and the effect would have been the same and taken a lot less time.  He could have been on appearing to more people and those two travelers could have ran back to Jerusalem to spread the good news that much quicker…..but no, Jesus took the time to just talk with them, to walk with them, to teach them.   I think Jesus like’s the relationship.

I’ve often prayed for a quick answer from God, only to have it take a long time.  I’ve often wished that God would just pump all kinds of wisdom into my head and then I’d have all the answers, but it doesn’t work like that does it.  God takes us on a journey, because he likes the relationship we develop with him.  He likes those long conversations we have with him.  He likes being by our side on those slow long walks to Emmaus.

With our hectic and fast-paced lives we lead, we don’t take the time to have long talks or long walks.  We don’t have time to build relationships with people.   We don’t take the time spend long quiet evenings sitting on the porch just taking in all of God’s creation.   If we’re lucky we try to squeeze a few minutes in the morning for a quick prayer or maybe one before bed at night.   We may have a few minutes to read a few verses of the Bible, if we’re lucky and can squeeze it in somewhere.  We don’t have time for those long walks to Emmaus.

Jesus wants a relationship with you.  He’s not about increasing his number of followers just to look at the total headcount.  He wants to look at us when we meet him in heaven and say “Jason, my old friend, you’re home at last.”  or “Denise, our long journey together is finished, we’ve reached our destination.”

I plan this week off from work to take a slow long walk to my Emmaus with Jesus.