Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

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*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Waste Nothing

3910415397_5974dca644_z“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’” John 6:12 NIV

Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most well-known stories and miracles recorded in the Bible.

We remember the massive crowd of people who followed Jesus to a remote area. We remember the worry expressed by the disciples over how to feed such a large crowd. We remember the boy with five loaves and two fish and how Jesus gave thanks for the food and then had the disciples distribute it to the people. And we remember the twelve basketfuls of food that were amazingly left over. But do we remember what Jesus said (as recorded above) when everyone had had enough to eat?

Jesus said, “‘Let nothing be wasted.’” We don’t know exactly what Jesus had in mind with this instruction to his disciples. Maybe he wanted to provide the people with a powerful visual of his abundant provision and power as the leftovers were placed into baskets. Or maybe he wanted to teach his disciples to fully use all that he provides.

Whatever the full intention of Jesus’ instruction that day, we can apply the lesson of “let nothing be wasted” in our lives today, can’t we?

On a physical level, we can all use a reminder to be good stewards of God’s provision. Unless we’ve known poverty and extreme hardship, most of us occasionally—or even regularly—waste the resources at our disposal. Food gets tossed out, water goes down the drain (literally), electricity flows when not needed, and money gets spent on foolish things at times. So yes, we need this reminder today.

Let’s also consider how this important “let nothing be wasted” lesson can apply to other aspects of our lives as well. What about trials? Let’s not let the hard things in our lives—the pain, losses, disappointments, challenges, injustices, etc.—be wasted. Let’s learn from them or grow in character. Let’s be moved to some positive action.

And what about the blessings in our lives? Let’s not waste an ounce of the goodness God lavishes on us. Let’s fully enjoy and utilize and share them. And let’s continually give God praise and glory for all the wonderful things he does for us.

So friends, whatever comes into our lives, whether good or whether bad, let’s heed that same instruction Jesus gave to his disciples so many years ago: “Let nothing be wasted.”

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14a NIV

*When have you grown through a trial? How have you fully used a blessing God has given you?

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*Flickr photo by K.Hurley, Creative Commons License

One Perfect Way to Pray for Those in Crisis

img_7208“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Luke 22:42-43

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest crisis of his earthly life—his impending crucifixion—God showed him his love.  The scripture above allows us to be witness to that tender display.

As Jesus plead with the Father to take his cup of suffering away, yet submitted to God’s will at the same time, we see the Father reach out to Jesus in love by sending one of the very angels of heaven to minister to him. And when God did this, when God showed Jesus his love, it strengthened him.

So when we watch others go through times of great difficulty or crisis—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual—one perfect way we can pray for them is by asking God to show them his love. And as God tenderly finds personally tailored ways to do just that, those hurting and struggling will experience God’s loving touch. Those in crisis will be strengthened.

Do you long to help loved ones and others in crisis today? Get down on your knees in prayer and cry out, “Lord, show them your love!”

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” Luke 7:13

*How has God shown you his love in a time of crisis?

*My photo

Midweek Morsel: Staying in Lonely Places

girl-491623_640“ . . . Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places . . .” Mark 1:45

Jesus knows what it’s like to be forced to stay in lonely places. Early in his ministry after people began to hear about his healing powers, crowds began to seek him out any time they caught news of his whereabouts. Jesus was no longer free to stay wherever he wanted. His growing popularity brought new limitations into his life.

Some of us may find ourselves in a situation or season of life that makes it necessary for us to stay in lonely places. For whatever reason, we’re not free to do what we want to do or go where we’d like to go. This new season, this new situation, has brought new limitations.

Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus understands our disappointment and frustration, our grief and loneliness when we lose our freedom? Let’s not face time like these alone. Let’s turn to Jesus. He understands.

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

*What’s one of the lonely places that life has found you in?

*CCO Public Domain Photo

Midweek Morsel: Attended by Angels

11248586324_e55d800f60_z“At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark1:12-13

Did you know angels attended Jesus during his days in the desert? Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how they attended him, but they were on duty.

The gospel of Matthew specifically mentions angels attending Jesus after Satan tempted him (at the end of a forty day fast), and here in Mark’s gospel we hear that wild animals were part of the scene. My NIV text note says that in Jesus’ day there were many more wild animals, including lions, in Palestine. I guess Satan wasn’t the only danger in the desert. Wild animals posed a threat—and I’m sure the elements did as well.

The Israelites also experienced angelic attendance during their desert days. In Exodus (23:20, 23; 32:34), we’re told that an angel went ahead of them, guiding and protecting them. I wonder if the angels who attended Jesus did the same for him. Perhaps they even ministered to other needs he had.

If God sent angels to attend Jesus and also the Israelites during their desert days, don’t you think he might send them to us as well in our times of need? When we are faced with temptations, dangers, dry and barren days, as well as need in extreme situations, will God leave us to struggle on our own? No, he will minister to us. And it might just be through angels.

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Psalm 91:11

*Have you ever felt that angels were attending you?

*Flickr photo by  www.carloscherer.eu, Creative Commons License