Snake bites and amazing grace.

Karma, I don’t believe in it.

I have seen evil people live long lives and prosper. I have seen good people live short lives full of suffering.

It doesn’t work. It doesn’t exist. Instead I believe in a God who sees and hears us. He has a plan and purpose for each one of us. Even if we don’t acknowledge him he will still use us.

I don’t know the whole story of Karma, who or what is supposed to be in control but We see how deeply imbedded the mindset is in a story in Acts chapter 28.

“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.”

Acts 28:1-6

Doing good does not guarantee a reward and doing evil does not always cause bad to happen. It just doesn’t work that way.

When we come to Him through Jesus, God, who is merciful and gracious treats us with grace and mercy. He is merciful, not giving us what we do deserve, eternal separation from him, but giving us what we do not deserve, welcome into his open arms of love. He is our father and he wants all of his children to come home and to be embraced.

Knowing God, having experienced his graciousness and mercy, my human nature still reverts to that cause and effects mentality and I have to remind myself of who God is and what he is, almighty God, AND my father, in heaven.

He has provided Jesus to pay for my sins, he asked his own son to die in my place so that I could, so that we could, be welcomed back home to be with him.

Life happens, stuff happens, God has a plan for us and sometimes that stuff will be rudder on the ship of our life, guiding us. No matter what, God will use whatever happens in our life for our good.

For Paul and Luke “and the rest” that were ship wrecked and stranded, he used that to bring healing and salvation to Malta.

“There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.”

Acts 28:7-10

The karmic mentality seems to be ingrained in us. There is something, someone better available to all. We have a Heavenly Father who longs for us to come home to him. He has given us Jesus as a bridge back to him. Will we accept and cross the bridge to a gracious and merciful Father?

I did.

I hope you will join me, join us, your father and family await you.

Who is this guy…?

He’s coming back.

He left to prepare a place for us. When that is ready and the full number of people who will believe in Him do believe in him, he will come back.

Matthew 21 records Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem before his death on the cross.

“21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”’

We who are alive today have an opportunity to ask the same question about Jesus.

Who is this guy?

Eternity is balancing on our answer.

He is coming back and it won’t be the same. I’m not trying to scare anyone. It is just the truth about his return. Will you be one of his followers? Or will you be one of his enemies? If you are a follower then you are one of God’s kids and are safe but as God’s kid, I am one too, we bear the responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus’ and forgiveness to a world that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.”

I ask, do you know him?

If you know him, will you share him with others?

#matthew21, #yesjesuslovesme, #yesjesuslovesyoutoo

He was and is thinking about us

John 17

Jesus prays for me and everyone else who will believe in him.

“20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”’

Jesus prayed for me. He knew about me, about us. We were on his mind and in his heart as he was preparing to go to the cross. In less than 24 hours he would be dead. Crucified. A form of killing that kills with pain. Knowing how and why he would die, he prayed for us.

Earlier in this chapter Jesus says something that’s very important and I don’t want to skip over it.

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Eternal life is gained by knowing God, and knowing Jesus, God in the flesh.

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

I don’t get it right all of the time. I fail, I stumble but I keep coming back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and the weird thing is, he does. He forgives me.

He knew about me and prayed for me. He knows about you too. He longs for all those who will believe to jump in and do it.

It was on purpose

He knew what was coming and and he did it anyway.

He was innocent and he did it anyway.

Jesus knew how and when and what was coming to him and for him in Jerusalem and yet he went there willingly.

Matthew 20.

“17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”’

Why? What prompted him to continue on into Jerusalem knowing he was about to die in the cruelest, most painful way that mankind had ever invented?

Obligation?

Duty?

Compulsion?

No.

It was love.

In Isaiah we read this:

“4 Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus knew we needed him to die in our place so he suffered the death we deserved. Then he was raised to life that we can live forever with him, this man who willingly walked into Jerusalem, knowing it would kill him.

He did it for us.

He did it for me.

He did it for you.

Today, what will we do about this?

Today.

We follow our leader by mimicking our leader

“Following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader wherever he may go”🎼.

As I was typing this I could hear the tune in my head. I can’t remember what it’s from. Peter Pan?

Jesus actually said something like this in Matthew 20.

“20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’

Where is our leader? Right now? He is in heaven, preparing a place for us. What else is he doing? He is interceding for us. What was he doing before that? Before that the greatest man that ever lived was dying for our sins.

Philippians 2 Paul stayed this principle in a more practical way.

“2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Christians, those of us who follow Jesus, should be the servants of all

And as I was typing this I was imagining a CEO leaving a boardroom to unstop a toilet, a nasty toilet, filled to rim.

As a Christian, There should be no job beneath our dignity. “What do you need? How can I help? Child care? Diaper duty? Dog doody duty? Teaching in Sunday school? Janitorial? Visiting shut ins? Visiting the hospital? Visiting the jail? Cleaning? Gardening? Cooking?

As I’m writing this it feels very flannel graph ish. Disconnected from life and pretend. The main truth, that no job is beneath me is there but my approach and how I’m saying falls short of honesty.

The reality, Jesus served us, following him we must strive to serve. Humility for the sake of humanity, to care about other people and care for other people. To do what needs to be done.

As Christians, how are we doing? Does being a follower of Jesus change how we act? Change what we do and how we do it? Does it change why we do it? Does Love compel us to serve?

Jesus make me more gooder at being good and doing good and serving and loving.

And yet…

We are a sorry lot.

The Psalms say this about us.

“God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Psalm 53:2-3

And yet he still loves us. And yet he still has provided a way back to him.

Paul says In his letter to the Romans “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11

The Jewish patriarch Isaac had a son Jacob. Jacob was a conniving grasping weasel of a man. One night though he had an encounter with God and he wrestled with him throughout the night. That night he was changed physically and spiritually and God even changed his name from Jacob, which means supplanter, to Israel which means “he struggles with God” “may God prevail”.

At the end of of psalm 53 the last verse mention Both names of Jacob, his name before he encountered God and his new name God gave him.

“Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Psalm 53:6

When God reveals to the world his plan to save us from our sin through Jesus, Let the old guy, the old selfish supplanter rejoice, and let the new man, the man God has touched and changed be glad. Now the world can know that there is hope in God through Jesus. Our sins can be forgiven and we can be given a clean start, maybe even a new name.

Hitting the time clock and headed home.

Quitting time. My favorite time of day. Packing up my gear, putting away the tools. Cleaning up and setting up for tomorrow. It’s a great time of day. What if you walked onto the job at quitting time and still got paid for the whole day?

Bonus!

That’s what happened in Jesus’ story in Matthew 20.

“20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”’

Some of us are reaching quitting time, not just of a job or a career but of life. It is the eleventh hour. The sun is setting. What does God want from us? What will God do for us?

Whether we have accepted him as a toddler and worked for the kingdom to our old age or if we lived our entire life in rebellion but on our death bed we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we receive the same reward, eternal life with our father in Heaven. God is as excited to welcome Home those who punch in into the kingdom time clock as they are punching out of life for the last time as he to welcome those who have served him long and hard “born the heat of the day”. He loves us all.

Jesus died to pay for our sins. All of them. Whether it’s the grocery sack full of the at age 16 or 26 or a cargo ship full at 56 or 66 or 76. The age doesn’t matter and the amount doesn’t matter. Jesus died to pay for our sins. You only have to ask. Forgiveness is for all at any age, even at the eleventh hour.

God wants his kids to come home. Will you accept his gift of salvation today?

Here is a preview:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Revelation%2022:1-5&version=NIV