Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Jesus Exceeding Our Exoectations

It was all too familiar.

Here she was walking the stony rugged path outside the city gate once again. A familiarity she never wanted, never asked for but yet she was retracing those same steps that she had taken before. A trip that seemed to had only been yesterday.

Just like the last time she kept her eyes averted to the ground. She could sense all the people around her but at the same time felt completely alone. She could barely even hear the professional mourners over the cries of her heart.

“What now?” “How could this have happened?”  “What will I do to survive?” Questions coming one after another, invading her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her knees from buckling.

With tears spilling down her cheeks faster than she could wipe them away with a cloth that lost its dryness days ago, she tried to focus on the shoulders of the men walking in front of her.  In fact, there were two columns of men walking together, side by side. These men were carefully placing their steps as to not mishandle the precious cargo atop their shoulders.  Each sharing the weight of the poles that made up the stretcher like coffin upon which the shrouded body of her son-her only son lay. Not only was this her dearly loved son but since her husband had died he was her protector and her provider. Now he too was gone.

The further outside the city she went the more numb she became. She barely noticed the group walking towards the gate about to pass her.  The cultural traditions held that when one passes a funeral procession condolences were to be made. This would be no different. For a moment she was able to pull herself out of the dense fog within her head.  She could tell there was a buzz of excitement within the oncoming group.  

What it was she didn’t know and frankly she didn’t care. 

Her world had stopped and that was all she really knew.

Once the group was close enough she lifted her eyes just barely to see the man walking ahead of the rest. There was something different about him. He wasn’t like the other mourners. As her eyes met his briefly she could tell he held true compassion for her. He came close and whispered to her, “Do not weep?”  Then he did the most unusual thing. He reached for the stretcher carrying her son’s body. The small amount of air that was left in her fragile body leapt out in a gasp. If this man touched the body he would be deemed unclean. “Why would he do that?” she asked herself.

As the man touched the side of the open air coffin, those carrying it stood still. She couldn’t help but draw close. She had to know what was happening.  It was almost like everything around her hushed and then she heard the strangest words coming from the man. Her head began spinning. “Did he just say what I thought he said? Did he just say, “Young man, I say to you rise?”

She stared at the man for what seemed forever then slowly turned and looked at where the body of her son lay. “What was she seeing? Was she dreaming?  Was that her son was sitting up and talking?” At that moment she could no longer keep her knees under her.

More questions bombarded her. “In her stumble, had she fallen asleep? Was this a strange dream? Was this man she kept hearing others call Jesus really standing in front of her? Who was that he has his arm around? Is that really her son?”

She reached timidly out to the hand beckoning for hers and when they met…when real live flesh met tears and laughter burst from her.  It was her son. He was truly alive.

The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17) only expected the obvious that day.  She expected to follow a procession to the cemetery. She expected to bury her son into the cold ground. She expected to walk that lonely path back through the gates of the city to her house. She expected life to be hard and sad from that point on.

But what she didn’t expect…she didn’t expect Jesus.

Jesus walked up and exceeded her expectations.

Friend you may not be walking in a literal funeral procession but you might be like I am, standing on a stony path watching that dream encased in a bubble wafting away on the slightest breeze.  Maybe you also feel like I have, like you are standing drenched in a muddy puddle from the wave that doused the passion that once burned like a raging fire in your heart.

Maybe your only expectations are to bury those dreams and passions in the cold earth with life never being the same again.

 Maybe you are not sure what to expect.

God has me on the journey of expectation. He is telling me not to be walking down a stony path with limited expectations.

 I have felt God ask me “Are you expecting Jesus?”

God is tugging at my heart to expect the arrival of Jesus and to be ready for him to reach out and touch that which I once thought was dead and rejoice when He exceeds my expectations.

Psalm 145:19 says, “He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.”

Oh friend, expectantly wait for His arrival and don’t be surprised when what He does totally exceeds your expectations.

Edwin Louis Cole says, “Expectancy is the atmosphere of miracles.”

I can’t wait, can you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Expecting His Return

Turn on any type of media and you will eventually hear worldly news.
Wars, bombings, beheadings, natural disasters…the world is moaning for Christ return…and whether the people of the world know or not, creation is expecting it!
Romans 8:19-20 says, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

In the Garden of Eden when Satan whispered lies, Adam and Eve made a choice that changed the world. Not only did mankind have consequences placed upon them but so did all creation.  Everything had fallen victim to sin with decomposition and decay finding its way into the grand scheme of the deceiver.

Satan orchestrated a plan to separate that which God said was very good from the presence of God himself however as time begin to march across God’s Kingdom calendar the return of Christ to reclaim and restore has been greatly anticipated.  With each passing year and day we see signs of a “crying out” for the King of King’s return
But what about us, modern day Christians are we expecting His return?  

As we sit in comfortable homes in a wonderful country that has not yet seen escalated persecution, how are we watching with intensity for His return? 

Do we scroll pass on our news feeds about the persecution that is being played out on the screens from the other side of the world not letting it touch our lives?
How can we earnestly expect His return? 

Matthew 24:36 tells us that no one knows the day or the hour so what can we be doing?

First we must take His return seriously by digging into God’s word and learning it.  We need to be prepared in and out of season to give an answer for our faith.  We also need to be able to discern what is true and lines up with God’s word.  If we haven’t spent time studying then we will not know lies that Satan is now whispering in our ears.

Second, we should not turn a blind eye to the news of the world and the persecution that is going on.  We should seek to let the reports prick our hearts into the action of prayer.  There are people across living this globe that do not have the luxury of walking into a house of God or to email or text a prayer request.  We can take up this mantel and be prayer warriors for them. 

Pray that they:

Stand strong in their faith

To live the joy of the Lord before their persecutors.

To feel the presence of Jesus

To recall the Words of the Lord for comfort and strength

To know their suffering is not in vain.

Third we must be bold and tell others about the salvation of the Lord. 
God’s word tells us that every tribe and every nation will be represented in singing before the Lord in heaven. Currently, not every tribe and nation has heard the salvation message of Jesus Christ. But with good focused strategy and faithful believers we can finish the task in our lifetime.  You may be thinking, “I can’t go” but have you ever considered that they person you share the gospel with just might be the one that the Lord calls to go to that tribe in the Amazon jungle or that remote nation in Southeast Asia?

William Carey said, “Expect great things from God, Attempt great things for God”

Friends we must grow to earnestly expect His return. 

Father, help us to expect your return in an urgent manner.  Help us to not turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to our brothers and sisters across the world that are suffering for you.  Create in us a passion for your Word, a voice that cries out in prayer and a boldness to tell others about you.  Lord, help us to step up our mission and expect you.  Lord, come quickly!