Devotion

John 11:2: It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. (ESV)

One thing marked Mary out- her devotion to Jesus. There cannot be devotion without attachment and commitment.

In the area of attachment, we saw Mary sit at the feet of Jesus drawing words from him, risking the anger of her sister who was busy for Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). There was an attachment to seeing the face of Jesus, to spending time with him,

But Mary did not stop there, from the focus verse we see that Mary did things for Jesus (she sat at the feet of Jesus, and cleaned them with her hair), but because she was coming from the base on personal devotion, her public devotion was on point. Later Jesus will say, she prepared him for burial (Luke 26:6-13).

She did not just identify with Jesus privately, she did it publicly also, lavishing him with worship. She exhibited uncommon commitment in the acts she took, pouring on Jesus a precious ointment and also wiping his feet with her hair (financial and physical commitment).

She was not content to show love to Jesus in her room, but she made it public. Everyone in the room witnessed her devotion, and she received commendation for that, for what she gave to Jesus and the risk she took, the dirt she cleaned off Jesus to take on herself, she did not care how she looked in order to make Jesus look good.

 

Advertisements

Healing Jesus

butterfly-752456_640John 5:11: But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” (ESV)

Healing takes a pride of place in the narrative of the life of Jesus. He is the one who carried away our sicknesses and our diseases (Matthew 8:16-17). He gives the mandate of healing to the church saying if we lay our hands on the sick they will recover (Mark 16:15-17).

Jesus healed in many ways: By casting out devils, laying on of hands, spoken words, touching. There is nothing too difficult for him to do on the healing dimension.

But in a place, he was unable to heal many because of the unbelief of the people. That means unbelief can block the flow of the healing anointing from Jesus. The opposite is also true.

For a woman suffering for twelve years in an issue of blood, touching the hem of the garment of Jesus even without his knowledge brought her instant relief (Luke 8:43-48). Jesus healed without even knowing about it. He is the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings, according to Malachi (Malachi 4:2).

Healing is no magic, it is about the presence of Jesus. While he was in a house, teaching the bible says that the power of God was present to heal (Luke 5:17-26). Let his healing presence touch you today. Amen.

To see Jesus

white-bengal-tiger-406994_640Luke 19:3: And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. (ESV)

To see Jesus, Zacchaeus needed something extra (Luke 19:1-10). But there was nothing that was strong enough to stop him in his quest. He did the extraordinary, climbing a tree. He had a social standing, but he yielded to the hunger in him and ran, climbed, to see Jesus.

He was short, so he had a physical restriction to seeing Jesus. What would hinder you from seeing Jesus to the fullest? Is it the pursuit of worldly things? The point is you cannot love God and Mammon (Matthew 16:13).

You cannot be focused on the world and on God at the same time. Jesus said that we should love God with all our strength (Luke 10:27). It takes the exertion of power, strength, time, effort, and aloneness. The top of the tree is a lonely place.

The choice Zacchaeus needed to make to see Jesus cannot be made by consensus, it has to be made alone, he could not discuss with anybody about it. Nobody can understand his hunger to see Jesus, no one can identify with his drive.

There are barriers to seeing Jesus all around us. We must be brave, we must be resolute, we must be undeterred, unbending in our resolve to see Jesus, gain more of his knowledge, wisdom and power, to see his glory manifest in our lives and through it.

Work ethics

book-841171_640Luke 17:9: Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? (ESV).

Hardwork is praised in the bible, while laziness is frowned at. Jesus said: I must work the work of him who sends me while it is day, the night comes when no man can work (John 9:1-4).

In the focus verse, Jesus was in the process of inculcating into the disciples the right attitude for spiritual service (Luke 17:7-10). He wanted a workforce with the best work ethics, not distracted by selfish consideration, but totally sold out.
He wanted them to see themselves as slaves, not ones with a wrong attitude, but one with a genuine understanding that it is actually a privilege to serve another’s needs.
They were to say: we are unprofitable servants. It means they will not be of any value whatsoever if they were not serving the will of the master, so they rejoice in that and regard themselves as blessed because of the privilege to serve. They were to derive their sense of value, usefulness, from their service, and closeness to the master.

Their mandate is to serve the master, wait on him. They were not to be focused in their own comfort at all. But now in the service of God, many people consider the financial implication, the time implication, and the energy implication, the sacrifice to self-will, entertainment, and ambition and goals, the persecution, the possible social cost, so they draw back from giving all it takes in the service of God.

Or after you make the sacrifice, do you now act as if, somehow, God owe you something, so you serve but you grumble in the process, like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)?

What will you do?

A great prophet

lion-218919_640 Luke 7:16: Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” (ESV)

To the people Jesus was a great Prophet by reason of the numerous miracles he did. But there was more to Jesus than the miracles, there was more to him than people knew and proclaimed.

He asked his disciples: what do men say that I the son of man am? There were different answers, ranging from John the Baptist, different prophets, Elijah (Matthew 16:13-17). They could only see him from the gridlock of their learnings, the past but not the future, they seek to fit him into the grid of their experience, but he was more than that.

It was Peter who eventually said of Jesus: You are the Christ the son of the living God. Jesus was ecstatic when he heard that, and he declared that can only be by revelation. The true knowledge of Jesus is by revelation. There is more to Jesus than what we know.

When we look to the pages of the bible, we realize that there is a Jesus who is the coming King, the one who will rule for 1000 years on this earth (Revelation 20:1-6). There is more to Jesus than meets the eye; than we can grasp with our finite mind.

What it means to be accursed

old-mill-489971_640Deuteronomy 21:23: his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (ESV)

Jesus hung on the cross. He died a terrible death. He was made a curse for us, though he knew no sin, though he brought only blessing, in a great travesty of justice. He did not bear the curse for himself but for us.

To be accursed is to be separated from God on a permanent basis, to be cut off from his life, to not be recognised by God. To give us a picture of what it means to be accursed we should see what happened to the walled city of Jericho (Joshua 6-7).

When the city was to be conquered, everything there was meant to be destroyed, and the one who took something for himself from the city was likewise destroyed, together with his household, and properties and what was stolen. They were stoned to death with a pile of stone on them. Rejection does not go further than that. Jericho was supposed to be treated as “accursed.” Achan the man who was stoned to death with his family was also treated as accursed, together with anyone related directly to him.

Jesus was totally rejected as he carried the sin of humanity on the cross and he cried to God: my Father my Father, why have you forsaken me (Mark 15:34)? He went through that so we can come into the full embrace of God having been invested with the righteousness of Jesus. He was rejected so that we can be accepted.

That is why Paul said that the preaching of the cross is an offence to the Jews, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1Corinthians 1:17-31). It is an offence because to them, the cross is a symbol of a curse, but to those who believe in Jesus, the cross releases the presence of God to us. At the foot of the cross the world and flesh becomes cut off from us and us from them. What was shame for Jesus, was renewal for us.

Without Identification with Christ in his death, we could not be identified with him in his resurrection.

He gives a new meaning to the cross. It is now equally the symbol of death and life, burial and resurrection, rejection and acceptance. Jesus bore the curse so that we can bear the blessing. He was accursed so that the blessing of Abraham can come upon those who are in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13-14).

It is at the foot of the cross that we meet the cleansing blood. On the cross, what was written as the list of things wrong with us, was nailed. The legal basis for the devil to hold us bound, hold us back in death, diseases and sin, were removed, and we are free, where Jesus was bound.

It is at the foot of the cross that we encounter the power of God for transformation. Through the cross Jesus passed from natural to the supernatural, from weakness to the highest level of authority. And now he has been given the name above every other name (Philippians 2:5-11). Before coming to the cross, Jesus was beaten and battered, after the cross, he rose up to be lord of lord’s king of kings. At the cross he was the Lamb of God, afterwards he is the fiery one, with a sword in his mouth.

To be accursed means to be taken out of the way, to be cut off. And that was what happened to Jesus on the cross. He spread his arm, had nails pierced them, he was made a public spectacle, with his friends and associates weeping, but he has a different interpretation of the event.

And when he was about to breath his last he said that: IT is finished, while others, both those who mocked him and those who wept for him, thought HE was finished. How could they have known the better since he was bloodied and sentenced to death?

Some might have even been wishing for a last minute miracle for him to save himself from death.  Even now, there are people that might have informed some who claim that somehow the cross was a stage-managed event, with the real Jesus gone from the cross, and not really dying, because “God cannot die.”

How deluded! But the bible says that Jesus tasted death for all of us (Hebrews 2:9). To taste means to experience. If he did not really hag on the tree how can he taste death, if he did not really die, then the penalty for our sin was not really paid for and we are still far from God.

If he was not really accursed it means we are not really blessed. But the bible says that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). If God did not really walk the earth, therefore man could not really go up to heaven.

To be accursed is to be removed from a group. For Jesus, it means he is to be regarded as a non-Jew.  To be accursed also means to be numbered with the wrong people. Of Jesus it was said that he was numbered with the transgressors (Mark 15:26-228).

Because Jesus was numbered among the transgressors, we are numbered among the righteous, in a divinely orchestrated arrangement. While Jesus was counted among the wrongdoers, though he knew no sin, he was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2Corinthians 5:21). Jesus went into the darkness of hell, so that we might go up into the light of heaven. Paul said that he became poor that through his poverty we might become rich (2Corinthians 8:9).

When he said my God why have you forsaken, me, it opened the way for anyone who is willing to come into the divine embrace, washed away from the sin of the past, made new creature (2Corinthians 5:17), with a new start, a new name, a new direction, a new commission. Paul said that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which are to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

God sent me

countryside-701753_1280Genesis 45:5: And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (ESV)

Joseph’s brothers, full of hatred, decided to deal with him ruthlessly forgetting that they come from the same father. Full of jealousy, they sold him into slavery. They were more interested in their temporary gain but God was working out something greater, because God’s thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).

To preserve the children of Israel for hundreds of years, God (indirectly) sent Joseph before them into Egypt, which became the cocoon, the womb, from which the nation of Israel would emerge.

They incubated in that place for hundreds of years, and the people multiplied and became very great. And a time came when the labour pain sets in. The contractions started when a Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph, did not know how he was instrumental in saving the nation from famine and helping it emerge as a superstar. He did not know that the children of Israel were there because of the influence of Joseph who had been a great help to Egypt.

That marked a change of the condition of the children of Israel in Egypt. Suddenly where they had enjoyed for years, where they thought they will abide forever, became the place of serious persecution. They were trodden underfoot, and eventually the labour pain increased and God came down and (directly) sent Moses to deliver them.

Though God sent Joseph hundreds of years before that, he did not know it until certain events began to play out, showing that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Similar to the calling of Joseph, Moses was called to save the children of Israel. At the age of 80, he was given a marching order and equipped with tremendous power for signs and wonders.

While Joseph used political power and wisdom in the administration of the state to gain favour in the land of Egypt, penetrating the place to become significant in the scheme of things, even marrying the daughter of a priest of the land, and aligning with the social norm of the land, Moses took the confrontational route.

While Joseph was born outside Egypt, Moses as born in Egypt but he has to run away from there for his dear life because he did something wrong, but Joseph was sold into slavery. not for anything he did wrong. They were opposites, but God can use anyone, from whatever background, age and experience and with whatever personality.

God sent both of them and equipped them differently. Moses was equipped with supernatural power for signs and wonders. Joseph was equipped with wisdom to solve administrative problems and becomes indispensable in the corridors of power, Moses was called to confront corridors of power.

But both were sent, and at different times to achieve different things. We never saw Joseph get angry, but we had the record that he wept, but we do not have the record that Moses wept but that he got angry. They had different temperaments, but they were both sent by God. There is no prototype man of God, there is only a prototype Jesus, the ultimate minister of God.

The bible described John the Baptist as a man sent from God (John 1:6), Jesus was also sent by God (Hebrews 1:1-3) but their personality and manner of approach to God and ministry could not be more different.

Jonah was sent to go to Nineveh but he thought he had a better idea, and took a journey in another direction. To stop him from succeeding in his self-will, a storm was sent by God to disturb the man who was sent but did not yield.

It was clear to Jonah that the storm was sent from God, and he was eventually thrown overboard and God sent a fish to swallow him up.

In that story, God sent three things. There was a man Jonah sent who thought he had better ideas, and there was the storm sent and the fish to swallow him up. Therefore, if we follow the path of disobedient, not following through with the direction that God wants us to follow, we should be ready to face storms; we become magnets for storms. When a heart of obedience is misplaced then storm will be in place. And we should also get ready to be stuck inside a “fish,” living frustrated lives, going nowhere.

God told Ezekiel: if I send you to a sinner to tell him to repent and you refused to deliver the message, it will be sad if the sinner dies in his sin because then I will require his blood from your hand (Ezekiel 3:18).

Jesus walked on the earth with the consciousness of being sent. We also should. Paul told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, adding that a soldier is not entangled with the affairs of civilian so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier (2Timothy 2:1-4). Paul said we are ambassadors (2Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador in another country does not go about paying attention to his own things, but to the concerns of his country of origin.

In the focus verse, we see that God is interested in preserving life, and we are also sent to the world to preach the gospel and save many from the raging fire of hell. We have escaped by the grace of Jesus, and we are supposed to help others to know the way. Hell is real and God does not want anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9).

We are meant to move by the power of the light of Jesus and break the hold of darkness off people. Jesus said: you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me everywhere (Acts 1:8).