Happy Resurrection Sunday! In this season we recognize that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he came to earth as the Son of God with the express purpose of bridging the divide between God and humanity.
What are your strengths? What are you good at? What tools have you already been given to help you carry out our mandate as ministers of reconciliation? You must figure out your functionality so that you can determine what your Kingdom contribution is to God’s plan.
Before Jesus could teach the disciples how to pray, there had to be an acknowledgment that they were willing to be students. And when Jesus began to teach them his prayer template, it was unlike anything they had ever understood about prayer. He had opened their eyes to a whole new system. He took a familiar concept, turned it on its head and encouraged them to look at it with fresh eyes in a new way.
Jesus was drawing from his experience in the wilderness to prove that by depending on God, we can pass the test of temptation and thereby mitigate the need for forgiveness. As you pray and determine to do God’s will, know that he is able and willing to keep you from falling. With God, you will pass your seasons of testing.
Jesus ties the relief of their debts to their willingness to relinquish the debts of those who transgressed against them. Forgiving others unlocked God’s forgiveness for them. Instead of a cycle of offenses, they would enter on a cycle of forgiveness.
There is nothing like security. We like feeling secure—the satisfaction of knowing that all of our needs are met, both now and forever. In fact, it can be quite unsettling when facing a mountain of unknowns and unanswered questions. What shall we eat? Where shall we go? Where shall we work? I can imagine that questions like these were at the forefront of the disciples’ minds as they followed Jesus from town to town. Some could describe it as living life on the edge.
All too often, prayer has been exclusively viewed as a time of petitioning. However, the truth is that petitions are an aspect of prayer, not the only expression. Instead of dialoging with God, some of us are guilty of using prayer to only gripe and ask. We rattle off our lists of wants and desires, complain about the difficulties of life, slap an “amen” at the end and go on about our day. But Jesus has shown us a different way through this template in Matthew 6.
As we approach this new year, my primary prayer for you is that you would be rooted and grounded in the love of God. I hope you experience the joy and security in the fact that God loves you and has already provided you with everything you need to succeed… the truth is that God’s perfect love for you is so vast, so wide, and so deep, that it expels all fear.
Joy is not so much meant for the good times as it is for the tumultuous times. This genuine joy does not deny the existence of pain, heartache, and loss, but it also acknowledges the strength of our God to heal, mend, and restore. Joy must be engaged and actively adopted. The season of Advent is about the arrival of the Savior and the joy he brings to the nations in the midst of our darkest hours.
Here we are at another Advent season—when we commemorate the anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ. To set the scene biblically, it was a time of great darkness in the earth, and more specifically in the Jewish community. They had been waiting for the arrival of their Savior with the expectation that he would turn the tables of their misfortunes. Exile, captivity, oppression, the pervasive humiliation of second-class status—over time, these feelings compiled to birth… hope.