Overcome shame

We think of shame as something bad that Jesus would never have experienced, yet,

… For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

You don’t scorn something you don’t experience. Jesus was nailed naked to a cross as a criminal. This was the ultimate shaming, but knowing it was the will of his father, he went through it.

Shame is developed in us so we can fit in with culture, but it can keep us from God because it has to do with politeness rather than love.

Fear of shame can keep me from following Jesus. I need to overcome that fear, and even its reality if I am to be free to walk with Jesus.

Jesus went through shame knowing that there was a reward beyond: To sit at the right hand of his Father. Many claim friendship with Jesus because he died for them. A more intimate place comes to those willing to join him in breaking through the shame barrier.

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Where do your desires lead?

Contentment frees us for Jesus, yet our culture drives us from it.

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Luke 6:20

The poor, aware of need have opportunity to depend on the Lord, whereas those focused on their desires turn to them – money, relationships, gifting, … for support. They are captive to what they have.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. 

Luke 6:21

Tragically, we have been trained by our consumer culture to always strive for more. The Bible says,

godliness with contentment is great gain.  

1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment bring freedom. when we are content, we can let go of the desires that drive us and are free to follow Jesus into love and faith.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.   But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  

1 Timothy 6:7-8

Food and clothing is a pretty low bar for contentment, the focus of it is the great equation: We come with nothing and we leave everything.

People argue that riches now make life more comfortable, but that accumulation comes at an eternal price.

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 

1 Timothy 6:9

Where are your desires leading you?

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Empowered?

Why does Luke emphasis that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power? Surely as the Son of God that’s obvious. Yet,

Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power.  

Luke 4:14

After being in the wilderness fasting forty days and been tempted by the devil Jesus should be weary. So, anything he did demonstrated the power of the Spirit.

Jesus said, blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The temptations demonstrated Jesus’ attitude. Consider his response to each,

“No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Luke 4:4

The passage Jesus quotes continues,

“But on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Deuteronomy 8:2

The source of his life is God and his word.

When offered the world if he worships the devil, Jesus responds,

“The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Luke 4:8

Jesus affirms the Father is the only one to be worshipped.

When encouraged to manipulate the Father into saving him and so gain honour for himself, Jesus responds,

“The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

At each temptation, Jesus affirms he is not sufficient in himself, he needs the Father and so the whole Kingdom of Heaven is available to him.

For the year ahead when we are weary of the issolation where is our hope and strength?

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Son of God born in a stable?!

The birth place of Jesus, a stable, almost escapes mention in the gospels.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, … She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke2:6-7

Luke is the only gospel writer who mentions it, and one suspects his purpose was to give context to the message to the Shepherds.

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Luke2:12

There is a humility about Jesus’ birth which we can miss through familiarity. It highlights a question many have wrestled with: Why does God allow challenging circumstances to those he loves? Both Jesus’ birth and death are extreme examples. Jesus himself speaks into these situations with statements many would prefer to avoid –

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

Luke 6:20-21

The very events we avoid relating out of embarrassment, the Lord calls gateways to blessing. Are we willing to testify to what the Lord has done without embarrassment?

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Will Jesus find a place?

How do we respond to the Lord’s message to us? Sometimes it is so different from what we expect we are left reeling. Consider Mary,

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  

Luke 1:29

Mary’s reaction was not, “Wow! an angel”, but confusion, the message was not what she believed about herself, It was harder to believe than being visited by an angel. The words were-

 “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Luke 1:28

Maybe Mary saw herself as despised and far from the Lord. Her song reinforces this,

“For he took notice of his lowly servant girl.”

Luke 1:48

I sense a Cinderella story. It seems there are times when the Lord puts us in challenging situations that beat us down; yet with purpose. Jesus was later to say,

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”

Matthew 5:3

When the Lord comes to us with the gift of his presence, what does he find? Is he received by insecurity that puffs itself up so there is no space for him? Or will he find the humility of Mary? One who had embraced her lowly place so she was able to receive Jesus into her poverty.

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When treasures collapse

How do we react when our view of the world is shown to be false? One of my views was shaken recently and I went into shock. I see this same response in the disciples when Jesus explains –

“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.”

Mark 9:31 NLT

This is so far from the disciples’ expectation they can’t cope.

They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.

Mark 9:32 NLT

Rather than responding with courage and faith, asking Jesus what he meant, they retreated into the false hope of pretending – Maybe Jesus didn’t really meant that.

Yet Jesus did mean it. If the disciples had been able to handle this challenge with faith and accept their view of God’s plan being trashed, they might have been able to take hold of the real hope that was offered –

“… but three days later he will rise from the dead.”

In our topsy turvy world we are seeing God shake one pillar of society after another. Only by standing with him in peace and asking him what he means by it will we stand while all we have treasured collapses. If we are able to let go of these treasures, we will be there to see glory!

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What is faith?

Jesus’ faith held to some absolute certainties.

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, …”

John 11:41-42

This does not mean Jesus always got what he wanted.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 

Mark 7:24

The work of faith is less about getting what we want, and more about how we behave when we don’t.

Then he took [the disciples] with him and they withdrew by themselves … but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them ..

Luke 9:10-11

Faith runs the race the Father sets out for us with love. Faith runs in hope that the one who sets the course gives grace for the challenges and unexpected interventions for the impossible.

let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

In this strange world our only hope is Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on him and run the course he has set for us!

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Celestial vending machine?

Do we go to Jesus for what we can get?

“My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

Mark 5:23

Healing came when Jesus touched. This man wanted it for his dying daughter- understandable, but inappropriate. Jesus in compassion agrees but before arriving, he sees something to develop his understanding.

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years. … she came up behind [Jesus] … and touched his robe. She thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped.

Mark 5:25-29

A woman came to Jesus thinking he provided healing through touch, a commodity to be used.

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

Mark 5:30

The woman had taken something from Jesus. He challenged her, and when she confessed, said,

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Mark 5:34

Taking had been wrong because the healing needed them both together. Her inappropriate taking would have left her with guilt, but now having humbled herself and confessed, she is sent in peace.

Do I treat Jesus as someone to be used, to get things from?

If you want to see God, be patient!

We see turmoil in the world. Do we also see the Lord who is over all?

The floods have risen up, O Lord. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves.

Psalm 93:3

The world and all its powers, symbolised by floods and waves, rage against the authority of the King. We see these powerful forces at work and become unsettled.

But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the Lord above is mightier than these!

Psalm 93:4

Whereas the waves are easy to see, the power of God is hidden from us. The Lord challenges us to believe what he has said about himself.

The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.

Psalm 93:1

When we think of power, we think of people throwing weight around like bullies. The Lord however is robed in majesty; think, the fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, …

If the Lord is patient in these tempestuous times, We will only see him if we receive his peace and from that peace are patient enough to see him unfold his plan with love.

How do you flourish?

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What kind of flourishing do you aim at? What kind of a person does that make you?

Only a fool would not understand this: Though the wicked sprout like weeds and evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.

Psalm 92:6-7

Weeds flourish, growing fast and taking over, but their end is the dump. This is the flourishing of the wicked, who manipulate and control.

But the godly will flourish like palm trees.

Psalm 92:12

The godly who know and live by God’s word grow more slowly, but with a greater trajectory.

The advantage of the godly is not in their skill at manipulating people and events. The wicked are better trained in such things, and they achieve so much – yet at what cost?

The godly by contrast …

… are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.

Psalm 92:13-14

The godly have an inner strength that comes through abiding in God’s presence. The flourishing is not seen in what they achieve for themselves, but in the fruit of love that overflows from them and brings glory to God.

But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.

Psalm 92:8

So, how do you flourish?