Signs and riddles–what an interesting way to communicate truth. You would think that if someone has something important to say, they would say it in the clearest way possible. Yet these tend to be Jesus’ go-to teaching methods.
In John 2 we see Jesus get into a little confrontation with the Jewish leaders. He catches them defiling the temple, God’s House and the Jewish holy place of worship. Enraged by such a terrible offense, Jesus drives everybody out of the temple, flipping over tables and dumping our money bags.
Imagine this from the standpoint of the Jewish leaders. They’re thinking, “who in the world does this guy think he is? What gives him the right?” So they ask Jesus, “By what authority do You do these things? Prove yourself!” Little did they know they were talking to the Son of God.
Jesus could have just come right out with it saying, “Guys, I’m literally God in the flesh. You know, that one whom your teachers have been speaking of for centuries, that’s me.” and then give them sign after sign as He was standing in their midst. Instead, He spoke of a sign that was to come. He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” The Jewish leaders–certain He is crazy–responded, “This temple took decades to build, you would rebuild it in three days?” Clearly they had no idea what He was talking about.
Luckily we get some behind the scenes commentary on what Jesus is really getting at. John tells us that Jesus was speaking of the day when He would be crucified and then raise back to life three days later. He was pointing to His death and resurrection as a sign that proclaims Him to be the Son of God, the One who came to take away the sins of the world.
I believe many of us are like the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day–constantly missing God’s message to us. God has gone through incredible lengths to draw us to Himself and to our Savior. Unfortunately we miss what He is trying to tell us. There is an easy solution though! The Bible is God’s megaphone through which His love and grace is shouted to the ends of the earth. Let’s turn to its pages and dive deep!
Do you have a riddle that you are working through in your life right now? What is confusing about it? Where have you looked for answers? How can you look for answers in the word of God?
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” Mark 1:16-18 (NIV).
In order to be a successful skier/snowboarder, you have to be all in. In fact, in order to truly master any endeavor, you have to give it all you have. A moment of hesitation could cost you the game or cause unnecessary injury.
Full send. All in. Don’t look back.
What if we translated our athletic endeavors into our Spiritual lives? All in. Full send. No hesitation. That is exactly the way the disciples reacted to Jesus. He said, “Come follow me.” Immediately they dropped what they were doing and followed him. They left their nets on the beach. Their nets were their means of providing for themselves and their families. Fishermen spent hours cleaning and mending their nets after each catch. Yet, they just left them lying on the beach. The disciples didn’t waver and say, “Jesus, wait, let me go talk this over with my family.” They didn’t weigh a pro/con list or ask for a day or two to think about it. They were all in because Jesus was that compelling. He was so worth leaving everything behind for.
What would our lives look like if we followed this example? Did the disciples waver in their faith? Yes, sometimes. But they dropped everything and immediately followed Him. What is holding you back from following Him today? Imagine what our world would look like if each and every one of us committed to being all in, and following our Savior without hesitation.
What is holding you back from releasing all control to Jesus Christ? How would your life change if you were “all in” with your faith?
Worship is something that God takes very seriously. We see throughout much of the Old Testament God’s specific directions on how His people are to engage in a relationship of worship with Him. He stresses over and over again how worship is to be pure and undefiled. So then, what happens when the religious leaders, the ones who are supposed to be leading the people in proper worship of God, turn the holy place of worship into a “house of thieves”?
Well, in John 2:13-25 we see just that.
This story takes place during Passover, which is an incredibly significant time for the Jews, God’s chosen people. It was a time dedicated to this pure, undefiled worship of God. Jews would travel hundreds of miles to the temple in Jerusalem to partake in the week’s events. During Passover, the temple courts should be filled with beautiful offerings of worshipful repentance, but instead, Jesus finds people trying to make money off of this sacred occasion.
Jesus is not pleased with what He sees taking place in His Father’s house– like overturning-tables not pleased. But Jesus can’t get angry, right? Well, in this moment Jesus was filled with righteous anger driven by a zeal for the holiness of God. It turns out the religious leaders and money changers were taking advantage of those who had come to worship and were actually robbing them of their money. They had turned the house of God into a house of thieves. Now, Jesus showed endless grace to the masses but one thing He would not allow is the defilement of the worship of God. So He puts an end to it.
I think oftentimes we are tempted to think little of the worship of the one true God. We can easily take it for granted and can even turn into an opportunity to be more self-centered than God centered. We look to see what we can get out of it rather than looking for what we can return back to God. We may not be robbing people of things that belong to them, but we can certainly rob God of the things that belong to God.
Like Jesus, let us be zealous for pure, undefiled worship of God, and drive out anything that gets in the way.
In what ways do you focus on yourself instead of God during worship? What is a practical way that you can drive out anything that gets in the way of undefiled worship? What are your favorite ways to worship your King?
At the beginning of John chapter two, we see Jesus do His first miracle: turning water into wine. Jesus was at a wedding party when catastrophe struck–they ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother comes to him in search of help. Sitting next to them are six stone pots large enough to hold over 20 gallons of water each. So, Jesus tells His disciples to fill them with water and serve it to the wedding guests. When the guests receive the water and drink–instead of tasting water–their mouth is filled with the most delicious wine. Everybody is stoked and goes back to the party.
This miracle, just like every other miracle Jesus would do, was to be a sign to the world. Verse 11 says this “manifested His (Jesus’) glory”. This miracle was a sign that showed that Jesus was not just an ordinary man, but much, much more. In fact, all the accounts recorded in the gospel of John of Jesus’ miracles, and even teachings and other public and personal interaction, are intended to do this very thing–to communicate that Jesus is God. The God of the heavens in human flesh.
The thing is, not everybody saw this sign. It was only Jesus’ disciples who watched this all go down. The rest of the people at the wedding were totally oblivious. They had their party and celebrations to attend. But, for the people who did see, what an incredible opportunity! They were able to see a manifestation of Jesus’ glory, and it says they believed in Him, that is, they believed that He was the Son of God.
I wonder, what are the ways in which God is at work today that we are totally oblivious to? How many of us are so distracted by the “party” that’s going on around us that we miss the King of kings and Lord of lords? How many of us live in fear of missing out on the “party” that we end up sacrificing time to be with the Giver of Life? I believe God is still at work doing amazing things all around us, trying to get our attention, saying, “Hey! I’m here! I’m real!” Maybe it’s time for us to set aside some of those daily distractions so that we can be ready to behold the majesty of God.
Is there something in your life you feel God calling your attention to? What is distracting you? How can you take time to give thanks for the miracles you witness in your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV).
This is one of my favorite verses in the whole bible. Matt chapter six is full of wisdom and describes the perspective we can have on life, through Christ Jesus. In this verse, its wisdom goes against human instinct. It says that worrying about one of the basic human needs, clothing, should be overlooked. Snowboarders/Skiers like new gear. We commonly use clothing in society to show that we have everything together. We like to use our outerwear to justify that we deserve to drop at the top of the pipe and belong frothing for fresh tracks.
With Christ holding our hand we don’t need to desperately search for something to give our life meaning anymore. Instead of choosing whether or not we should focus on next season’s gear, we can let Christ build something in us that won’t leave or pass away. We can let Christ create our identity. Clothes are transient, they give us an illusion of identity. Yet, Christ is constant. He welcomes us as his Children. Clothes come and go, seasons come and go, our feelings come and go–but Christ’s love for us does not. His promises stand through the march of time.
I don’t know about you, but my season in Mammoth got cut severely short. I am writing this looking out my window at the snow-covered mountains, “ready to shredy” but I can’t help but think about my lack of a job, direction, and the seeming inability to make my life greater than what it is today.
Now, I could worry about where to continue working, how to pay my bills, what direction I want to take my life, and how to make the most of my time or I could use the same faith used in Matt 6:28-30 to realize that I am not the one who will bring my own life into meaning, fullness, and success. Jesus will.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) says, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” I choose to not worry but to instead trust that the living God will make a way where there feels like there is no way. He will fulfill the promises he has made to me. I could worry and try and accomplish what I deem as socially normal or good for me. Or, I can accept the closure of my ski resort and realize God is taking me for a greater ride than I could have ever given myself. Don’t worry, for the Lord holds your tomorrow. Focus on Christ and he will guide you through today’s ride.
Where have I been trying to achieve success through my own actions without relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to finish the rad work he started? Where can I let go of stressing over things I cannot change? What areas of my life am I able to release to the Lord and watch them grow through His strength?
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” Mathew 6:34 (ESV).
Unfortunately, we live in a fast pace and speedy progress culture. We want to move onto the next thing as soon as possible and we lose our patience over a stupid traffic light that stays red for too long. Our “now” focus has shaped our perspective on God’s heart instead of looking and relying on His word to shape our hearts.
God’s love for us is incredibly patient. For real, our heavenly Father cares so deeply about us in the present–who we are right now. He isn’t waiting for us to become perfect to give us the gift of His love and joy. He isn’t holding back living in communion with us until we finally get over a certain sin. He is crazy about us right now, in this moment.
There is a verse I want us to meditate on today and I hope it changes our perspective just a little bit. Mathew 6 illustrates God’s provisional nature and questions why we have a lack of faith, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” and then it continues at the end of the chapter, “…O you of little faith? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
God takes care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and we still decide to be impatient about something. Let us listen to His spirit today as we try to live in the abundant life that Jesus died for us to have. He promises to give us what we need if we seek Him first, not second or third, but first. We should give God the patience that He deserves, in response to His patient love for us. We should live in the moment and not be anxious about tomorrow in response to the faith that He has instilled in us.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7
“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:8
God is currently shaping and molding you into a child with a greater sense of His love every day. The process of this will be hard, but making the conscious choice of engaging in the present and living in the moment will set your heart on God. He is providing for you every single day even when you don’t see it. May you find pure stoke, patience, and purpose by living in the present.
– What burden have you been carrying around that is grounded in the past or future instead of the present? – How will you respond to God’s love and patience that he expresses towards you?
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” Matthew 26:3-4 NIV
Some of Jesus’ biggest antagonists in the Bible were the Pharisees. The Pharisees (or teachers of the law) were the people who knew scripture the BEST. They had devoted their lives to studying Biblical law. They were expecting a messiah (Savior King) like all of the other Israelites. But when Jesus came, they rejected Him. Why?
The Pharisees expected a conqueror. When Jesus came in peace–as a suffering Servant-King, they couldn’t comprehend how this man could possibly be their Messiah. Jesus didn’t live up to their expectations. So, these chief priests and teachers of the law wanted Jesus dead. Instead of changing their hopes, they wanted to change Jesus. Spoiler alert: They end up killing Jesus, the true Messiah, because The Man that came didn’t match the man they expected.
Like the Pharisees, often we have very specific expectations. When things don’t turn out how we hoped or expected, our whole world turns upside down. We believe we are right about a matter, and when evidence presents itself otherwise–we reject it as impossible or even crazy. Instead of humbling ourselves and following Jesus, we end up going down a self-centered path because we cannot admit we might have been wrong.
As children of God, we need to be fiercely humbled by the Holy Spirit. We must recognize when we are wrong, say sorry, and investigate other answers. We are called to give over our plans to the Lord in humility, instead of getting wrecked every time something doesn’t turn out how we thought. None of us actually know what lies around the corner, shall we stop pretending that we do?
What have you received recently that didn’t match your expectations? What did you learn from that experience? How do we try to fit Jesus into our lives, instead of trying to fit our life into Jesus?
“I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Trouble is literally defined as “difficulty or problems.” Trouble looks different for each and every person. For you, it may look like an untimely injury in the middle of an important athletic season. Trouble could look like a family member battling cancer, or mental illness. For others, trouble could be a relationship or financial crisis. Right now, trouble in our world looks like a whole lot of uncertainty, chaos, illness, and fear. It’s easy to take on the world’s problems and let them become all-consuming. Chaos is flooding our world, but it doesn’t have to consume our souls.
Breathe. That’s right, inhale, exhale. You are not the one who is in control.
Jesus tells us in the book of John that we will have trouble. It’s not an if statement. In this world, we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with control. I don’t want anything left to chance so I will do all I can to avoid uncertainty. It is times like these when I have to throw in the towel and surrender my entire life over again to the Lord. I cannot control the world around me, but my Savior can. I cannot control what will happen tomorrow, but my God has been ready for this moment since the creation of the world. Today I find peace in my God, who is constant in the midst of chaos. I can rest in the Lord who is in control, even when the world around me is filled to the brim with uncertainty. I trust you, Jesus, with my trouble, please use it to shape me into a better reflection of you. Today I find peace in my God, who is constant in the midst of chaos.
What is the first thing you turn to in times of uncertainty? What are you holding on to that you need to release to the care of the Creator? What is one thing you can do today to encourage someone who is facing trouble or hardship?
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:7-8 (NIV).
Let’s not forget who Jesus is.
We tend to get in the thick of life and get so busy that we forget to slow down and look back. We neglect reflecting on life–seeing where we came from and where we are going. I think spiritual life is similar. We get caught up in trying to make it to church or bible study before going to work or hitting the mountain. Let’s take a step back and remember who Jesus is in our life.
There is this saying that I remembering hearing for the first time in high school, Jesus is RAD. I loved it so much that I got it printed on my arm. As we take a step back, let’s see who and where the foundation of our faith has come from. Jesus is R- Righteous, A- Available, D- Direct.
Righteous, 2 Corinthians 5 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus was made perfect. He was made righteous to cover our unrighteousness. His shed blood is the only thing that enables our fellowship with Him. Jesus sacrificed himself so that we could be his homies.
Available, Mathew 11 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus has made himself readily available to us. He wants us to rest in Him and wants us so badly to have a relationship with Him.
Direct, John 14 says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is pretty straight forward with how he talks to us. He is filled with intention and purpose and slaps us with the truth, even in a single sentence.
These powerful attributes of Jesus were set in the Holy Word for a reason. Let Him change how we live our lives constantly and how we passionately share His love with those around us. We can use this to tell people about Him on the chairlift or at work. We should be as direct and intentional with homies at the skatepark, coworkers, and housemates as He is with us.
– How does this change your view of Jesus? – Who can you tell about Jesus’ radness this week? – Learn from Jesus’ characteristics that we tend to look past and forget about. Let them enter your life so deeply that we can love those around just as He would.
These past few weeks have been absolutely bonkers for me and probably for you reading this as well. The reasoning for all this craziness in my life is not just because of COVID-19, but also because of what God has been teaching me and what He has been doing in my heart. What I’m learning and what’s happening in this world with COVID-19 goes hand in hand and I felt called to write about it.
A few weeks ago, I went on a surf trip on the Oregon Coast. On the way there I decided to stop in Portland to see my friend. Mike’s always been a mentor to me, by encouraging and challenging me to grow in my faith. As per usual, we started reflecting on our lives and what God has been teaching us.
I just finished my college career and haven’t really figured out what’s next. Mike is in the same boat. He starts talking about “perfect peace” and what the bible says about it. I defined it as a condition of freedom from disturbance within the soul; perfect harmony reigning within. Isaiah 26:3 nails it on the head. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” It’s the whole idea of being a son/daughter of God and having complete trust and confidence in His word and will for our lives.
This is a heavy thing to do that is yet so practical. Since I am still learning what this means, I’ve just been asking God each day “what is your will for me today?” By doing this I have noticed two major things that are changing in my heart: an absence of fear and the presence of the spirit. Philippians 2:13 says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” My fear is gone. I am no longer having anxiety and being worried about my future. Whatever happens, whatever I do, whatever I go through, it is going to be good. Listening to the Spirit is new for me as well. Once I started understanding “perfect peace”, I’ve noticed that I have more room for the Spirit to move in me. I have been able to receive words from the Lord for myself and others
As I enter into this new chapter of my life, I decided to just give it all to God and take it day by day–listening to His spirit and asking Him to show me His will for my life. With this step of faith, I have found both hope and love. I will never fully understand what God’s “perfect peace” is but I am committing myself to unpack its outgrowth in my life and I encourage you to do the same. It all starts with a little ask and God will answer in a big way.
While I’ve been contemplating the concept of “perfect peace”, COVID-19 slams into us like a crashing wave. While there is a lot to be said, it is important to note that nothing is too big or too gnarly for God. This pandemic has brought on a lot of fear and uncertainty to our world. I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories in the Bible where Jesus calms the storm.
This story is such a good example of what is going on today. Instead of putting all our energy into being scared of this virus, as Christians, we are called to put our energy into trusting Him. Romans 8:18-28 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” I believe that he is working through this virus and wants to change people’s hearts. A lot of people’s hearts are empty and hopeless. This opens up so much opportunity for His glory to be revealed His peace to conquer all. He wants to infect people with His freely given love. I’m praying heavily for it.
So, what can we do? Pray! Pray for the hearts of the hopeless to be impacted by Jesus. Pray for leaders that they make good decisions. Pray for churches to keep impacting their communities. Pray for health. Our God is a healing God. Pray for people that have lost their jobs during this time. Pray for God’s provision in financial situations. We are also missing out on our normal spring activities, so be praying for our mental health as well.
A lot of us weren’t expecting to end our season so soon. How can we still be involved in reaching people? Here are some ideas that you guys can be doing. If you are sick, PLEASE stay home and rest! Dive into the word. Call your friends and family. Check-in on them and pray with them. If you’re healthy, go ski touring with one or two friends an maintain social distancing (6ft space and washing hands). Spend time in God’s creation while getting a good workout. Dust off the bike and start pedaling with a couple of friends, that’s what I’ve been doing. Support your local businesses. Be kind to the people working to be open even though their businesses are being unconventionally limited. It’s a bummer that the end of the season didn’t go as planned but there are still plenty of opportunities to love on people. Jesus works in quick interactions too. Ministry never stops. We can all be seeking out alternative ways to build the kingdom.
I painted this lighthouse about to be taken over by a wave. Lighthouses are built to withstand gnarly swells and storms. No matter how crazy the storms are, it’s always going to be guiding ships home. Yet, even the wind and the seas obey Him.
God’s working through this. God’s got this! We got this!