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A Friend of Jesus’ Soliloquy (Part 2)

green trees on gray concrete floor near body of water during daytime

In my home town people make you wear your mistakes.  I was the whore, and I would never escape my past.  The biting sarcasm of the other women, just loud enough so I could hear what they were saying. . . it scars your soul, you know what I mean?  The leering looks of the men, as though I were just an object. . . it felt like my worth was being peeled away in strips.

I didn’t know what love was, so I went looking for it in all the wrong places.  That’s a cliché, I know; but I’m not the only one who’s gone down that road.  I felt used, discarded, beyond redemption.  After five sorry marriages, I gave up on the idea of love and settled for affection, or at least attention.  There were times I wanted to change what I’d become; but the guilt just dragged me back into the rut of my sin.  “You made your bed, now lie in it,” was a how a relative put it, with a sneer.  The shame taught me to avoid people, so I would wait until the heat of the day to go out in public.

One day I met a stranger at the town well.  He didn’t know me, I thought, and that was why he talked to me.  He asked for a drink of water.  Experience had made me suspicious of anyone who seemed kind; but he was different.  He didn’t look at me the way all the others did.  I was wrong.  He did know me, like no human being ever could; and he wasn’t put off by who I was or what I’d done.  When he spoke about salvation, I dared to ask if he was the Messiah that rabbis spoke about.  I think I knew the answer before he affirmed it.

It was the strangest thing.  I forgot about the shame I’d been living with and began telling others that I had met the Christ.  They seemed to forget my guilt as they joined me in asking Jesus to stay and teach us more.  He took away my guilt and shame.  I didn’t understand how at first; but months later, when he gave his life at the cross, I got it.  He really did take away my guilt and shame.

At the well he told me, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)  That didn’t make sense to me at the time, but now I know that the spiritual life he brought about in me is everlasting.  And there is nothing in this world I thirst for more than that.

You know me as the Samaritan woman or the woman at Jacob’s well.  I know you as my brothers and sisters in God’s grace.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for wiping away my past sins and giving me the reason and the courage to live differently.  Thank you for the new identity you’ve given me as God’s dearly loved child.  Encourage me to invite others on the journey of eternal life with you.  Amen.


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A Friend of Jesus’ Soliloquy (Part 1)

black cross statue
 
We all need some reason to get up in the morning, some goal or purpose for what we do.  I used to think that what gave my life meaning was winning.  Life’s a competition, right?  If I’m smarter, quicker, more ruthless, I win.  I made a lot of money, and a lot of enemies, because I was willing to do what others wouldn’t in order to win.

I had a chip on my shoulder because I was always the shortest guy in a crowd.  I had to prove that I was better than the people who looked down on me.  You don’t make friends that way, but I didn’t care.  At least I told myself that I didn’t care; but there was something missing in my life that winning didn’t satisfy.  People said that Jesus had the answer for life.  I was skeptical, but I wanted to see who this Jesus was.

He wasn’t that impressive at first sight actually, but then he wasn’t trying to be impressive.  It was like he knew he was the winner, so he didn’t have to prove it.  That throws a person off balance at first.  He was all about other people.  On his way into my city, he healed a blind beggar.  A beggar!  Who cares about beggars?  And then he looked at me, saw right through me and said: “I need to stay at your house today.”  It was as though he had read my mind, saw the hole in my soul – the emptiness that was left in spite of all my winnings.  The people I’d been beating at the game of life grumbled about Jesus.  “He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner,” they said.  I didn’t care what they said.  Jesus thought I was worth his attention.  He gave me a new sense of life’s purpose – righting the wrongs I’d done, loving the people I once thought of as opponents, providing for the people I used to consider losers.  You know what did it?  GRACE.  Jesus was God giving up everything to rescue sinners like me who were chasing all the wrong things.

This is what he said to those who thought I wasn’t worth his time: “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  (Luke 19:9-10)

I think what gives life meaning or purpose is what you’re willing to die for.  Jesus died for me, for you.  His purpose has become ours, committing our lives to those for whom he died.  Life’s still a competition, but winning looks different; and the stakes are higher.  It’s about winning souls for Jesus.
 
You know me as the little man in the sycamore tree at Jericho, Zacchaeus.  I know you as my brothers and sisters by faith in Jesus.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me from myself, for giving up your life so that I can truly live.  Make my life count by leading me to love those who are hurting and to share the truth of salvation in you.  Amen.

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Fear

black and white quote board

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]

What frightens you? Clowns, spiders, snakes, storms? What scares you? Failure, commitment, loneliness, to-do lists? Fear is one of those things that all people feel, even if children are the only ones who are honest about it. 

The thing about fear is it freezes you. It stops you in your tracks. It keeps you from doing what you need to do. The same was true for the people wandering around the wilderness. They were scared of the size and strength of all the people that currently lived in the Promised Land. And they let that fear of failure and defeat keep them from living in the commands and promises of God. 

They feared people over God. They feared what man can do over what God can do. They believed the declaration of their hearts over the declaration of God. So God’s command was simple: Be strong. Be courageous. DO NOT FEAR. 

What are you fearing more than God? What fills you with enough dread to stop doing what God asks? Will you have the courage to face your fears? 1 John 4:18 says it this way: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. God loves you! God has your best interests at heart! Jesus gave his life for you! That perfect love drives out the fear of everything else. 

Be strong Be courageous. Face your fears and follow God.

Dear Lord, You have promised eternal life to us. You have promised never to leave us or forsake us. Help us to cling to your promises. Remind us of Your faithful love in Christ, and help us to have the courage to live boldly in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


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Inaction

man in blue and white striped crew neck shirt reading book during daytime
 
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. [Joshua 1:7]

Be careful to do according to all that is written… It’s almost like the instruction manual that comes with the build-it-yourself project. If you miss one step- look out. If you think you can just figure it out as you go, you are going to be left with that one extra screw, worrying when it will all just fall apart…

Why is it with faith that we assume we can pick and choose which parts of God’s Word that we can do? Why is it that we are so okay with failing so often? Yes, we are weak. Yes, we are sinful. BUT… We have the Holy Spirit. We have the promises of God. We have God’s clear Word. 

We allow ourselves to slip into inaction because we don’t rely on the strength of God. We look to our own strength, and when that is not enough, we find it easy to give up. Be a courageous Christian. Live by Colossians 3- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Prayer: Lord, help us to be courageous by living out our faith. Give us the strength to trust in You, especially in our struggles and temptations to give up or stop trying. You have saved us forever in Jesus, remind us of the strength we have in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

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Ignorance

gray sand under white and blue sky

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so shall I be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” [Joshua 1:5-6]

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, after a whole generation dying, after a lot of manna for breakfast and lunch and dinner, the Israelites were finally about to enter the Promised Land. Why did it take so long? In 40 years, they could have walked around the whole earth- multiple times! It took them so long because they ignored the promises of God. 

God told them to trust him, let God be their guide. Instead, they were controlled by their bellies and worries. Time and again, they grumbled about God’s plan. So God made them wait. And wait. And wait. A whole generation was doomed because of their ignorance toward God’s will. Moses himself got so caught up in his frustration with these people that he even ignored God’s command; to get water for the people, he struck a rock instead of speaking to it, breaking God’s command. 

So Joshua came along, ready to bring these people into the Promised Land. It was time to move in. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for these people to conceive of finally entering into the land they’d heard about, been praying and yearning for? When God commissioned Joshua, he gave him a charge- be strong and courageous. God made the promise to give this land to this people- will you believe it or not? 

Another Joshua came along. Yeshua, Jesus. The one who would bring eternal redemption, leading God’s people into the Eternal Promised Land. Jesus has defeated all our enemies- sin, death, and the devil. And we have the same charge as the Israelites in the Old Testament. “These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:10) Will we be strong and courageous and follow Jesus into the Promised Land of God’s Kingdom?

That looks first like putting our own ignorance to death. We no longer ignore God’s commands. We no longer think we have it all figured out. We no longer believe in ourselves or our plans first. Hear God’s command for you today: be strong and courageous. You might be set in your ways for even longer than 40 years! Don’t worry, Jesus has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Turn to him, ask him to reveal the path of promise to you. And then get ready to go! 

Lord God, help us to trust in You over our own ways of thinking, doing, and being. We often think we know best, but when we fail in our own efforts, we remember to rely on You. You sent Jesus to rescue us and lead us. By Your Spirit, help us to follow. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

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