Proclaiming Good News

What stories do you tell? Are they true? Are they important? Are they rumors? Will those stories be important a week from now? A month from now? A year from now? Do you tell the story of Jesus and His saving grace?

We talk a lot. Some people wake up talking and don’t stop until they fall asleep. Even those who don’t talk as much can talk for long periods of time on topics they are interested in. But are we talking for the sake of talking, or are we talking about what is important?

We are inundated with opportunities for our attention to be drawn away from what is most important. We have entertainment options. We are distracted by fashion. Our jobs require us to focus on accomplishing tasks. Our families need us to take care of them. We are faced with many decisions every day that require our attention.

Jesus sent the twelve apostles out to proclaim a message of hope. They were to tell people “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” What does that mean? Jesus, being God incarnate, had left heaven to come to earth. His message of hope, redemption, love, grace, and mercy were welcome to a people who had been conquered and were being oppressed.

His message also gave people the assurance that God had a plan. It told people they could spend eternity with God. He simplified the law, boiling it down to two commands—love God and love your neighbor. He performed miracles to provide additional evidence He was who He said He was.

Are we following His instruction? Though Jesus sent the twelve out to proclaim His message at that time, He wants us to continue to proclaim His message today. He wants us to share the message we have received.

I pray we all share the message of Jesus. I pray we tell others the good news of Jesus. I pray each one of us discern what is truly important and proclaim Jesus’ message. Discern the truth. Make the good news top priority. Tell others about Jesus. Do as Jesus desires.

Matthew 10:7-8 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

Start a New Thing

Are you planning to start something new in the new year? Have you been able to start and keep your new commitment for these first few days? Has it been a struggle? Does it feel as though you are pushing against the tide?

When the calendar roles over to a new year, many make resolutions to start something new. The range of resolutions is as varied as the number of people who live in this world. Some people will make multiple resolutions. 

Unfortunately, many of our resolutions do not last. Within a few days or perhaps a couple weeks, we grow tired of the struggle, or something causes a temporary roadblock, and we stop pursuing the change we started. It may have little impact, if our resolution is to stop eating chocolate. However, it may have a significant impact, if our resolution is to start a new healthy habit or give up a bad habit.

We can start a new habit, one that puts us in coordination with God. Just as God started a new thing when Jesus was born into this world, we can walk beside Him with a new dedication. God stated He was making a pathway through the wilderness. The wilderness we live in is full of brambles, briars, pitfalls, cliffs, mountains, and fallen trees to block our path or discourage us. But when we trust God to clear the path, He delivers on His promise—even if the path is different than the one we envisioned.

God also promised to put streams of refreshment in this wasteland for us. Those streams come in the form of family, friends, and churches. They are people of encouragement, people who renew our strength when we grow discouraged. We may also be a person of encouragement for others, being a stream of cool water to refresh them. Yes, God started something new with Jesus, and He continues it today.

I pray we all commit to starting something new. I pray we dedicate or rededicate ourselves to Jesus. I pray each one of us follows the path God has cleared for us and drink from the clear streams He has put in our lives. Start something new. Dedicate yourself to God. Follow the path God has cleared. Drink from the streams God provides. Be the encouragement for others.

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland.

Proclaiming God

What must happen for you to proclaim the greatness of it? How extraordinary must it be? Are you easily impressed, or does it take something near other worldly? Would God standing right in front of you be impressive enough for you to proclaim it?

We often see or hear people being over dramatic about events today? It seems everyone is seeking attention. They want the focus to be on them, even it is only because they are telling a story about something that happened to someone else.

Yet, how do those stories stack up to God coming into His creation? We are impressed by someone who rides a skateboard, does a backflip, and lands on the moving skateboard. We are entertained by our pets and some of the funny things they do. We are wowed by a one-handed catch in a football game. They all pale in comparison to God stepping into this world—the world He created.

The psalmist proclaims the name of God. He praises his name. He wants all the nations around the world to know who God is and what he has done. The proclamation and praise are a result of the psalmist experiencing God’s handiwork in his life and recognizing it is God who acted.

How often do we chalk something up to coincidence or happenstance, rather than giving credit to God for having acted in our lives? We fail to recognize God at work. When we open our eyes and our minds to see God working, we will be amazed. That amazement will lead us to give God the credit due him. Our amazement will prod us to praise him and proclaim his mighty acts.

I pray we all proclaim the name of God. I pray we praise his name. I pray we recognize his acts in our lives and seek to tell everyone we know about them. Proclaim the name of God. Praise the Lord. Seek God working in your life. Recognize God’s acts. Tell others how God is moving. Tell others of God acting in your life.

Psalm 105:1

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;

make known among the nations what he has done.

Verify What You Hear

Do you ever question someone is who they claim to be? Have you heard about someone and wonder if the stories are true? Do you want to verify the stories, perhaps even see them for yourself? Do you think you are alone in your quest for truth?

We may hear rumors of a new boss. Perhaps the stories being told sound too good to be true. Perhaps the stories sound so audacious we just cannot believe them. On the other hand, we may simply desire to have every story verified before we believe them.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to verify the facts of any story we hear. However, verifying every story becomes an overwhelming task. Therefore, we must discern which stories are of such importance we should verify and which ones we can accept as they are told or simply ignore them. Discerning the difference can be a bit challenging. We tend to lean toward those of interest, which may cause us to avoid a very important story we should investigate.

As we see in today’s passage, John the Baptist discerned correctly to investigate what he heard about Jesus. He sent a few of his followers to see Jesus and question Him. Though John had prepared the way for Jesus, and even baptized Him, he still wanted to verify Jesus was who he thought He was. John knew this was a very important point to verify.

Jesus didn’t give a simple yes or no. Instead, Jesus told John’s followers to report to John the miracles Jesus performed and the good news He was proclaiming. John would have known Jesus was fulfilling prophecy and the expectations of the Messiah. He also would have taken the warning Jesus gave to heart. I’m sure John’s faith was fortified by the report his followers brought back to him.

I pray we all perform our own investigation of Jesus. I pray we seek to know the truth about Jesus. I pray each one of us will heed Jesus’ warning to not stumble on account of Him. Seek the truth. Verify what you have heard. Spend time in God’s Word. Know that Jesus is who He claims to be.

Matthew 11:2-6 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 

Servant of God

What are your expectations for your life? Do you expect to be a servant? Or do you expect to succeed at everything you do? Are you willing to listen? Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to follow direction?

When we are children, we have big dreams. Some of us dreamt of being astronauts. Some dreamt of being a big-time sports star. Some dreamt of being a singer, or movie star, or a corporate executive, or perhaps even a politician.

As we grow up, our dreams change. Eventually, our dreams fade, and we turn to what is possible, what we are reasonably sure we can achieve. We may still have dreams, but they are less about seeking glory or our ten minutes of fame, and more about providing for our families and setting our children up for success.

But do our plans, desires, and dreams include serving God? He seeks for us to serve Him. He desires to give us so much more than we dream, though not what we dream. He is willing to show us His will, His plans, and our place in them. He will lift us up on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31), if we will only trust in Him.

Simeon trusted God. It had been revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. When he saw Mary and Joseph bringing the eight-day old Jesus into the temple to perform the Jewish ritual of dedication, he saw God’s promise come to fruition. At that point, Simeon was ready to go home to be with God. He experienced the true joy that God promises each one of us.

I pray we all seek to serve God. I pray we seek to understand His plan for our lives. I pray each one of us will be ready to go home, knowing we have served as best we can, when God calls. Serve God. Be a servant. Live out God’s promises. Live the abundant life. See God’s plan for you.

Luke 2:29-32

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

A New View

How do you regard people? How do you view others? Do you view them as fallible and corrupt people? Do you see them as disgusting, superficial, and disingenuous? Do you see people as God sees them?

It doesn’t take much effort to hear people complaining about other people. It doesn’t take long to hear people putting others down. Accusation’s fly. Counter accusations are made. People look down their noses at one another. And we miss an opportunity to see as God sees.

We live in a hurting world. We all know it. In fact, we often talk about how much we hurt or what someone else is going through. We treat the symptoms. We commiserate with one another. We pay exorbitant fees for counseling. And the hurt continues.

How do we fix the problem? We don’t. What?! We don’t. We turn to God and ask Him to fix the problem. We trust Him. We first ask Him to fix us. To help us see one another as He sees us. We make an effort of our own, in conjunction with God, to see people as He sees them.

God sees us as His creation. He sees us with more love than a mother sees her child. He loves us so much that He sees beyond our wretched behavior, seeing the potential He put in each one of us. He reconciled us to Him through His Son, because of His love and how He views us.

God can and will make each of us a new creation, a new person, if we will only trust Him. He will show us how to see through His eyes. Our eyes will be opened, our behavior will change, and then we can make a positive impact on this world rather than continuing to contribute to the hurting and brokenness.

I pray we all seek to see others as God sees them. I pray we trust that God has reconciled us. I pray each one of us will ask God to make a change in us and show us how to see through His eyes. Make a positive impact. Trust God. Ask Him to change you. Ask God to allow you to see through His eyes. See others as God sees them.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

Son of God

Who we believe Jesus to be is key to how well we follow Him. Do we believe He is the Son of God? Do we believe He is our Lord and Savior? Is He merely someone we have heard of? Do we sometimes think He is not real?

Our beliefs drive how we behave. They drive our decision-making process. They drive who we choose to associate with. Our beliefs may change over the course of our lifetime as we learn and experience new truths.

Unfortunately, it is possible for us to have false beliefs. It is possible for us to choose to deny the truth in front of us. We have the choice to believe Jesus is who He said He is. Or we can choose to believe He is a fictional character, nothing better than a story out of Hollywood. What choice will we make?

Oh, we won’t put it in such simple terms. We will say we believe in God, that we believe Jesus is the Son of God. But what does our actions say? They reveal our true, deep-down beliefs. We can make mistakes along the way. Those are forgiven. It is the continual choosing our own desires over God’s that show our heartfelt beliefs. It is our conscious decisions to follow our desires rather than God’s that reveals who we believe Jesus is.

Peter confessed Jesus was the Son of God. He did so with a convicted heart. Otherwise, Jesus would have called him out. We know that Peter denied Christ on the night he was betrayed. But we also know Peter became a powerful preacher of the gospel, convincing numerous people Jesus is the Son of God. His work was instrumental in firmly planting the church. He could not do all of this without believing Jesus was truly the Son of God.

I pray we all believe Jesus is the Son of God. I pray we believe deep in our heart He is our Lord and Savior. I pray each of us believes deep enough to put God’s desires ahead of our own. Believe Jesus is who He says He is. Put God’s desires ahead of your own. Build on your belief of Jesus.

Matthew 16:15-17 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

The Great Healer

Are you suffering from an ailment of some kind? Do you long to be healed, to be made whole again? Are you actively seeking being healed, or are you sitting idle and wishing? Have you turned to the healer of all?

We know or meet people on a regular basis who suffer from one ailment or another. Some actively pursue healing through doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, mediums, or even home remedies. Though they may not find healing through their attempts, at least they are seeking it.

Others do not seek healing. They are content to sit and do nothing. Yet, they will complain of their ailment until the cows come home. Perhaps they just want attention. Perhaps they are afraid of what they will be told. Perhaps they are simply too lazy to help themselves. Perhaps they are incapable of seeking healing. In any case, they don’t seek healing and wallow in their misery.

There is One Healer we can reach out to who will ultimately heal us of our ailments. Unfortunately, many will not reach out to Him. He does not promise to heal all our physical ailments in this life. However, in some cases, He does heal physical ailments. What He will heal us of is our spiritual ailment. He will bring us into a relationship with Him that will make us whole. His healing includes removing our fear, granting us courage, peace, joy, and loving us unlike any other.

I pray we all reach out to the perfect Healer. I pray we seek to be healed by the One who provides the ultimate healing. I pray each one of us will throw off our reluctance to be healed. Seek the One true Healer. Seek God. Ask God to heal you of your ailments. Receive healing. God is willing to heal you. Accept His healing.

Acts 9:32-35 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Acquire Eternal Life

What is eternal life? Is there eternal life? Do you believe there is eternal life? Do you long for eternal life? Do you know how to acquire eternal life with God? Do you know it is not nearly as difficult as you may believe?

There are people in this world who do not believe in eternal life. They believe this life is all there is, and you better make as much of it as you can. Or, they have resigned themselves to this life being a miserable existence and simply long for it to be over.

Despite what many may believe, there is eternal life. In fact, the Greek work zoe means eternal life or physical life, depending on the context. When used to mean the physical life, it includes the entire lifespan, not simply breathing in the moment.

Jesus tells us how to acquire eternal life. He states it is knowing God and Himself. When Jesus states it is to know God, He doesn’t mean to merely know about God, but to know Him intimately. It is to understand God’s nature, commands, and desires. We are to know Jesus in the same way.

How do we gain this knowledge? By reading and studying God’s Word, hearing God’s Word preached, discussing God’s Word with other Christians, and communicating with God. In other words, getting to know God is no different than getting to know anything or anyone else we desire to know in this world. It requires time and dedication. The question we must answer for ourselves is, do we truly want to know God?

I pray we all want to truly know God. I pray we decide to get to know Him like we get to know one another. I pray each one of us is dedicated to knowing and understanding God, thereby acquiring eternal life. Read God’s Word. Study God’s Word. Hear God’s Word. Discuss God’s Word. Communicate with God. Get to know God. Acquire eternal life.

John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Be Like Andrew

Are you calloused? Do you have a sinical view of the world? Does anything surprise you? Does anything excite you? Is your excitement limited to momentary excitement, quickly dissipating once the event is over?

We all get excited for one reason or another. We are surprised by something unexpected happening. Yet, as we grow older, less and less surprises us and it becomes more difficult to get excited. We’ve simply seen too much.

Looking at today’s passage, we see Andrew get excited. As soon as he heard John speak about Jesus, he ran to tell his brother Peter. Notice it says he had to find him. It is not as if Peter was nearby. Andrew had to search for him. I can imagine Andrew hurriedly walking or perhaps running through the camps and groups of people along the Jordan. He might even have been calling Simon Peter’s name. Why? He had exciting news to pass along to him.

Are we equally excited about Jesus? Jesus should mean just as much to us as He meant to Andrew. He is the Messiah, Christ, Savior, Son of God. Telling others about Him, especially family members we love and care for, should be a top priority. However, from my own personal experience, I know it often is not. We assume we know what their reaction will be. We are afraid of being rejected by them. We are afraid of being made fun of.

Andrew was surprised to hear the Messiah had arrived and was energized to go tell his brother. His brother became one of the pillars of the early church and is still highly respected today. Who might we tell about Jesus who may become a pillar of the church and community?

I pray we all get excited about Jesus. I pray we decide to tell others about Him. I pray each one of us keep our excitement about Jesus and who He is for our entire lives. Be surprised. Be excited. Tell others about Jesus. Leave your fear behind. Be like Andrew.

John 1:40-41 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).