What Can a Mere Child Teach Us?


Acts 23:11-35; Mark 10:13-15

A conspiracy was formed. Forty Jews came together and developed a plot to finally rid Paul and his message of salvation through Jesus Christ. “They bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.”

Unbeknownst to them, Paul’s young nephew overheard their plot. With great courage, he came to his uncle and told him what he heard. Paul instructed the centurion to take him to the commander so he could give his report.

The commander took the boy by the hand and listened to what he had to say. Remarkably, this commander took seriously what this child reported. He did not underestimate the intervention of a child.

As a result, this commander put in motion a plan to protect Paul. He was able to securely and successfully escort Paul to Rome. While a prisoner, yes; but not just any prisoner, one who was in chains for the gospel and one who would boldly preach the good news of Jesus.

And who did God use to help Paul? A mere child! We assert that he was a child based on the language used in Acts 23:19, “Then the commander took him (Paul’s nephew) by the hand, led him aside, and inquired privately, “What is it you have to report to me?”

It’s not likely the commander took the hand of a grown man and led him to a place to hear his report. Either way, a child or one younger than ourselves, we can never dismiss the wisdom of those that God uses to instruct us.

One thing we can learn from children is how to have the kind of faith we need to get to heaven. Over and over, my children have taught me as much as I have taught them. God works through His people regardless of age. To be a learner like children means to set aside our pride, come humbly to the water and drink. It doesn’t matter if the pool is prestigious in form or simple. Does it have fresh water where we are spiritually nourished, is the question?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15).

Children are very receptive to truth. They want to know what is real and what is not. They have an inner desire to know God and worship Him.

Children have great faith! We would do well to learn from them as well as help them grow in this faith of theirs.

I came across an interesting illustration that Charles Spurgeon shares:

I heard the story of a man, a blasphemer…an atheist, who was converted singularly by a sinful action of his. He had written on a piece of paper, “God is nowhere,” and ordered his child to read it, for he would make him an atheist too. The child spelled it, “God is n-o-w h-e-r-e. God is now here.” It was a truth instead of a lie, and the arrow pierced the man’s, own heart.”

Because of their humility, children are able to see truth. Their innocence allows them to approach life with a deep desire to seek what is real. They can teach us much. Never underestimate the wisdom and intervention of a child or a disciple younger than you! God can teach you so much through them!

 

 

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Take A Moment


“Is anyone going to heaven because of you” is the question that was asked of me this morning.

My answer, “Yes!”

I was encouraged as I began to think of the people who know Jesus because God used me. Then, as quickly the encouragement came, discouragement moved in.

I immediately thought, “But who have I not reached? Who did I miss? Who is not hearing about Jesus today? What more can I do for you, Lord?”

My soul depleted of all rest. Robbed was my hope in what God has done through me. Back to the grind. Keep working. I have no time to stop. No time to rest in God’s goodness today.

And then the Lord quickened me with, “Take a moment, my child.”

There are times we need to stop and meditate on the good we are doing for Jesus. We need to be happy about it. We need to feel the joy of just serving our Lord. We need to embrace this moment long enough to be encouraged along the way.

But we don’t take this moment in life, do we?

It’s so easy to add a tag line to the good we are doing with, “but you need to do more or you can do better.” It’s true, we do need to do more, we can improve, but we can also rest in God’s pleasure that we have done well.

Life is hard. It beats us down.

Busyness keeps us from being still.

Media berates us with anxiety, fear, and despair.

Troubles and trials make us weary.

Demands and expectations never take a vacation.

We end most of our days deflated as we reflect on what we have not accomplished.

The tension is this, we need to evaluate, we need to learn how we can do better, but we need to rest our soul from the incessant assessments, too. The cost to not resting is too great. Rest does more than just give us the time to sleep and gear up for the next big job we need to do.

Look at what we put aside when we choose not to glory in God’s work through us:

We don’t embrace God’s pleasure.

We don’t allow ourselves to feel His love.

We don’t take the time to hear how much He is proud of us.

Not feeling His pleasure, His love and His pride in us is a sure way to serve God without passion one day. We will lose our vision, joy, and purpose. We will forget why we do what we do. We will do out of duty not love. As the church of Ephesus was so acutely scolded, “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance…but I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:2-4).

You are His. I am His. Being a good Father, God wants you and me to come to Him and tell Him the good we have done. He wants to celebrate with us. Just as Jesus did when the seventy disciples returned with joy after being sent out to heal the sick and share the power of the Kingdom of God with those in need. (Luke 10:1-20). Jesus took a moment with them.

And we need to take the moment, too. We need to take a minute to reflect on the goodness God is doing through us.

Make a list of those people who are now children of the Most High God because you helped them get there. Reflect where they would be if you didn’t take the time to share Jesus with them.

Be pleased that the last church event you organized went well, or the sermon or worship set moved people to action; take a moment, experience the thrill of that one conversation you had that changed a life. Delight in the fact that God gifted you and you used that gift to bring Him glory!

Take a moment!

Be encouraged. Stay there a while. Praise Jesus! Thank God! Worship Him!

Don’t bring out that evaluation yet.

Do what the Psalmist said; “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7).

The time we take to rest our soul is so much more than just giving ourselves a pat on the back. It’s called taking a Sabbath. The Sabbath is a time to rejoice in all the Lord is doing in our life. It’s time to rest the soul from the “to do” list and the “evaluations” that are necessary, but not for today! Take a moment.

Run to your Father in Heaven; allow Him to refresh your weariness and encourage your soul.

Tomorrow you can bring out the evaluation. Tomorrow you can get on that ‘to do’ list.

For now, just take a moment!

 

 

 

 

Why Children Should Memorize Scripture


May I tell you why it is so important for your children to memorize Bible verses? Why it is important that they attend their small group at church regularly? Why reading scripture at home every day is so vital to whether they experience a full life or an empty one? Why sharing the word of God over meals, in the car, when you tuck them in bed is imperative to their ability to survive in this world? May I tell you?

Is it because it’s a good thing to do? Yes, but ultimately that is a weak reason; doing what’s good can be overrun by something superficially “better”.

Is it because we are to be obedient to God? Yes, but in the end obedience with coercion wanes.

Is it because everyone at church is doing it? Sure, their influence is good for us; however, without a lasting purpose, we will look for a new fad to follow.

Every one of your children will face difficulties, tragedies, suffering, disappointment and rejection in this life. Jesus has said it, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). It’s not a matter of if, it’s a sure deal.

As much as we want to protect them from all hardship, it does not change the fact that our kids will experience trials in their life. We can’t protect them from them all, but we can provide a way through them.

Let me ask you a few questions:

What are your kids to do when their troubles come?

Parents, what happens if you are not around to comfort, protect, and encourage them?

Where do they go if they feel all alone?

I’ve been reading an incredible book titled, Defiant, written by Alvin Townley. It is a book about the POW’s who endured unfathomable torture in Vietnam’s infamous prison. It’s their story and the story of their wives who fought for their freedom. This book is a hard read, because the topic is difficult to get through, yet what I have come away with has been profound. Particularly, finding out where these POW’s gained their greatest strength.

Many of them, if not all grew up attending church. Some Catholic. Some Baptist. They grew up learning scripture, memorizing it, knowing it. Some were not exactly walking with the Lord when they crashed into enemy territory; but while in Vietnam’s prison, they reflected back to their church upbringing.

With life’s basic necessities stripped from them – their dignity, health, psychological stability, family, friends, food, warmth, and all they needed to survive, they remembered the scriptures that they memorized. Many of them groped and clung to these Bible verses. They gave them comfort, warmth, the drive to not give up, and the ability to trust God in their most desperate moments. For seven years, these men suffered atrocities that were unimaginable. But, God’s truth was there. It was in their heart; they believed it and grew to cherish it.

In all the horror they lived through, and all the evil they encountered, God drew them close to Him by His word. They learned to refresh themselves with His word. They leaned on His word to help them carry on. Mind you they did not have a Bible; all they had was their memory.

Impending trials are one of the reasons our children must know God’s word. They must encounter Jesus as their Savior. Our faith in Him comes by hearing the truth. Once heard, seeds are planted. When watered, they sprout. When they sprout, their faith in Jesus becomes a tree firmly rooted in a well-watered garden – one that will feed them during the good times and the bad.

The word of God is a powerful sword; it cuts through evil, separates what is good from the foul. It keeps us pure; it provides us peace where this world cannot compete. It is by far the only tool that can strengthen the weary from grief and broaden our understanding of how powerful God is.

Even though these men suffered so deeply, even though they became like wineskin dried by smoke, God’s word came to the surface just like the noon day sun arises. Even though the arrogant guards dug pits for them, these POW’s relied on the Word. In their long wait for their release, all but one hung on; all because God’s word was powerful enough to nourish their every need.

God’s word is not just words on a page, they are the very demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. They explain the spiritual realities that we can experience. They are finer than gold, stronger than steel and more lasting than anything on earth. All things will pass away but God’s word will forever stand. 

We have no idea what difficulties our children will face in their life. Some as tragic as I explained above, some not so much. Nonetheless, each will experience their own depth of anguish in life. Will they be ready to endure? Will they have the word as their tool of comfort, combat, and courage?

Teaching your children the word of God is like giving them food and water. Can you imagine depriving them of their daily nutrition? Never! It would starve them, make them sick and eventually kill them.

Likewise, God’s Word nourishes their soul, heart, and mind with lifelong weapons against the evil of this world that wants to rob them of God’s peace and steal their God-given purpose.

Feed your children truth as Jesus told Peter to feed God’s people.

Fit the scriptures in your everyday life. They do fit; they will fit.

And when your child’s time of struggle comes, you will be glad you did.

“If Your word had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction.”

(Psalm 119:92).

 

Some People Are Frustrating


I used to love gardening. I still do, but I don’t have much time for it. While, for the most part, I had a pretty green thumb, there is one plant that I just could not help grow. It was the Rhododendron. I have planted many and killed them all! I was determined to fix whatever I was doing wrong. I researched, asked questions, kept buying more, and I planted them in different types of soil. As it turns out, I was planting them too close to my house; therefore, the roots could not grow out the way they needed to. Their position was just as important as the soil in which they were planted.

Helping people grow spiritually can be just as frustrating. It’s no easy task. It can be wonderful and discouraging all at the same time. Jesus knew this full well. I think He wanted his disciples to understand that there was more to their determination and methods that they tried. It is true that helping a person grow close to Christ has much to do with the seed being sown and the soil it’s planted in; but even more, it is the positional perspective of a person that makes their soil fruitful or not.

On the Sabbath, Jesus taught in the synagogue where a man with a paralyzed hand was sitting. In the crowd were also the Pharisees. Jesus told the paralyzed man to stand before the congregation and He asked the people, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save a life or to kill?”

By this question, Jesus was speaking truth into the hearts of the hearers. He was illustrating that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. To use the man for the Sabbath was evil. All in the synagogue were listening to this message. From what perspective did each receive this truth? Who received it with joy, humility, and adjustment? Who did not? One walks out changed; the others walk out, even more, hardened than when they first came.

After hearing this message, the Pharisees were silent.  Their silence revealed a hardening of their heart. Jesus looked at them with anger and sorrow.

Then he told the paralyzed man to stretch out his hand. As he stretched it out, his hand was restored. This man walked out changed. He and the Pharisees heard the same truth. They both were sitting in the presence of Jesus, the Savior of the world. But this man’s hand was restored and his heart of faith was most likely increased. However, nothing could have angered the Pharisees more.

Where was their anger rooted? It was in their wrong focus. Their focus was on the law of the Sabbath, not the purpose for the Sabbath.

Where were Jesus’s anger and sorrow rooted? It was in the lack of spiritual growth in these Pharisees. They were in the presence of Jesus – the Son of God – the Messiah…and they just couldn’t understand it. They were blinded by their positional perspective.

Many who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at the authority and power with which He taught. They were also quite amazed at the many miracles He had performed. Some had faith. Some were just curious. Some were changed. But some, such as the Pharisees, were not so amazed; and they certainly didn’t want to change. They were not focused on who Jesus was. Instead, they plotted to destroy Him. They were not interested in the truth. They were only interested in their way of thinking, their pride, and their interpretation of the truth.

While many were in the presence of the Lord that day; not all were responding well to the word of truth shared. Those resisting change angered and saddened our Lord. Some people are frustrating! Amen?

Jesus understands our frustrations and sadness with those in our life who just don’t respond positively to the truth given. Jesus desires for all to know Him. But not all want to know Him the way they need to.

Jesus told His twelve disciples that many may look and look, but not perceive; many will listen and listen, but never understand. These people are in the presence of truth; the place where the seed of God’s word is sown; they hear it, they listen, but it is their response and their perspective to the truth that makes it impossible for them to grow. In this case, it is not the seed that corrupts the growth; it’s not how it was delivered; it’s the distractions within the soil.

Let’s move to a modern-day example:

The preacher is giving a sermon – a sermon rich with truth. This truth reaches every ear sitting in the congregation.  .

The response by some is distorted by sin; the temptations that have taken hold of their heart have deafened them and confused their understanding.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But what was sown was not received. These walk out of that service unchanged…maybe, even more, hardened than when they first arrived.

Yet in the same setting, there are those who hear the word and are very excited. They find a fresh new strength to conquer their challenges in life.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But their response is short-lived. Once they get into their car, the pressures of life take over. They listened without the humility to change. The truth tickled their ears but did not take root in their heart. On the way home, they justify their situation. They stumble back to their destructive ways.

Then there are those sitting in this congregation who hear the word while their worries plague them.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

Yet, they see and listen with a strangled heart. Their worries choke the truth. The wealth of this world and their flesh suffocate their growth. They leave this service unfruitful and ineffective. These people never change because their mind is set on earthly things.

Finally, there are the people of the good ground.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

They respond with meekness of mind, heart, and soul. These people do three things differently than the others:

  1. They hear the word with great expectation. They perceive God’s word as a calling to change. They join Him where He is rather than asking Him to join them where they are.
  2. They welcome His truth. With courage, they adjust their life to His truth. They set their minds on things above and remember that the things of this world are only temporary.
  3. They advance the Kingdom of God. From their calling to their development they produce fruit – fruit that lasts. No matter the cost, they are sold out to God’s ways. They are Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother; they are people who do the will of God.

All are sitting in the midst of our churches. All experience pressures. All are tempted by the wealth and pleasures of this world. All are born of flesh and blood. All have sinned and still sin. All hear the same message spoken. But only one kind moves from exploring Christ to being Christ-centered. Only this one will advance the Kingdom of God. Only this one will adjust their lives to the seed’s calling. Only this one will hear “’Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share in your master’s happiness!”  

I never did plant another Rhododendron. Thankfully gardening is not my calling.  On the other hand, making disciples is my calling. I have experienced many in my life who don’t respond to the truth of God’s word the way they need to. While I gave up on planting the Rhododendron, I have not given up on those who need the Lord.

But one thing I have learned – to change my response to those who do not change vs. those who do.

Those who receive, I walk with them and help them mature in Jesus. I enjoy seeing them develop. But those on the other side of the spectrum, I don’t walk with them. I pray for them. I don’t pray for their behaviors to change. Instead, I pray for humility of heart.  I also pray that what this world offers them breaks down. I pray they see the frailty of whatever it is they are trusting that is not Jesus. That seems harsh. But in order for them to see their great need for Jesus, they need to see this world as worthless compared to a relationship with Him.

I understand frustrations with those who see and listen yet never change. It’s as if the hardness of their heart is stronger than the grace of God. While God’s grace can overcome their hardness, it’s important to remember that it is their responsibility to position themselves for growth.

Related Readings: Mark 3:1-6; 3:31-35; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

Is Being Rich Lots of Money?


The love of money brings about all sorts of evil. While a rich man may be successful at being rich (having lots of money), this does not mean he is successful. For one must look at how this man became rich and the purpose he has for his money to decide if his wealth is truly fruitful.

Sadly, humanity is tempted to judge a person’s success by their material outcome.

For example, a man can become rich by deceit, robbery, and trampling the poor. There is no end to the evil this person may do to gain his wealth. The outcome is their value. Their focus is self-reward at any cost to others.

Even their own moral code is for sale. Whatever is necessary to get rich is the open highway they cruse.

Amos, the prophet, writes of these people, “…they cheat with dishonest scales. They buy the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and even sell the chaff!”  (Amos 8:5-6).

Self is their center. Self is their matter. Self at the cost of others is their process to becoming rich. And joy never fills their heart. Enough is never enough.

On the other hand, a rich person who gets his gain by giving is one whose process is praiseworthy. They have boundaries and limits that they set for themselves to follow. These provide guard rails that keep them on the righteous path.

Their value is not money; it’s giving. Success is found in charity.

Paul tells us about these people and their idea of being rich. They know where their richness comes from… We read in 2 Corinthians 9:10, “Now (God) who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

Their righteousness is the ability to give to others, especially to those who are in need.

These people also fully understand the purpose of the excess, the profit, the richness; You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11-12).

I had the opportunity to give someone some money earlier this week. They did not ask for it. I had not planned on giving any money to them that day. We had a conversation, and she told me of her family who was suffering great loss. She shared that she was saving money to send them things they needed. She did not have enough to mail them this package.  As she shared her story, I remembered that I had $47 cash on me. I had planned to use it for myself that day…you know some lunch, a little Christmas shopping, etc. But in that moment as this woman talked, the Spirit led me to give it all to her. The tears of joy and gratefulness that streamed from her eyes were joy to my heart! I feel rich, not because my bank account has lots of money, because it surely does not, but because I gave. Giving makes us rich. I trusted that the $47 dollars could be provided by my Father in heaven if I should truly need it. Did I eat lunch that day? Yes. Did I have enough to buy a few gifts for others? Not really but that was okay. Do I miss that $47 dollars? No. What I remember is not the loss of money but the joy and peace of the one in need.

You may have one dollar in the bank and be rich; what you do with that money and the process by which you increase it determines if you are the selfish person or the selfless. Likewise, you may a $1,000 dollars in the bank and be poor because of how you use the money and the process by which you increase it.

The outcome of the selfish person is more money for himself. The outcome of the selfless person is more people giving praise to our God in heaven. Money is not the issue, it’s the tool. And the tool must be desired for the right reasons.

As you meet situations in your life where giving or keeping is the choice, which will you choose? Determine if the giving will encourage praising and pleasing our Father in heaven. I have often seen God grow the dollars in my account because I have given of my last dollar to one in need. I have had the opportunity to meet a need and trust the Lord for His provision. And you know what? I have never been disappointed in the outcome! God has always provided! Always!  Has He adjusted my pathway by it? Yes. However, the adjustment has righted me on a path of great peace and joy, for it is better to give than to receive.

It’s heartbreaking to see a need and not have the means to meet that need. The Spirit calls and we are unable. I’ve been there. Nothing is more distressing. In those times I have discovered that my priorities of self-serving have gotten in the way of the Spirit’s leading. And when God has peeled away my selfishness, He has shown me that even in my “poverty” there is seed to sow.  In those times of little, I have given to others and have seen God increase my seed. In turn the ability to give has matched the Spirit’s leading.

This is joy, my friends! This is joy! Being rich is not lots of money; it’s lots of giving!

We are in that season where giving is easy; we hear it all the time that Christmas is the season of giving. Sadly, the season of giving stops after December. Then selfishness takes is ride again.

How about we change this habit and seek to be givers all throughout the year. Why limit our joy to one month, when we can live it twelve months out of the year? I’m not talking about having Christmas every month; I’m talking about being attentive to the needs of others and realizing that gaining wealth serves a greater purpose than being richer for ourselves.

 

 

Overcoming Spiritual Starvation


I believe that confidence in the flesh, confidence in what we can accomplish robs us of our hunger for Jesus Christ. We can care more about what we can do and therefore focus less on what God can do. In this we limit the outcome of success in our life. We limit the outcome of divine power working in our life. We limit God’s grace working for and through us. And at the end of this road we find ourselves still wanting.

To “still want” means to be disappointed.

In our disappointment, our energy is spent. Our expectations wane, we regress to less faith in God, and our love for Him is just a concept. A theory. An impression. Our walk with God becomes a regimented list of things to do. We walk by sight. We embrace religion.

Religion, however, is not hunger. It’s spiritual starvation. How do we overcome this? They key is in what we hunger for.

Did you know that all of creation hungers for the Lord? Every beast, land, vegetation, sea and the universe groans for the knowledge of God. They not only groan, they praise Him and they lust for His Presence. Many men and women and child have also groaned with desire for this knowledge. As a result, they have found Him. They have all discovered the secret that Jesus is infinite, therefore there is always more of Him to know. They have learned to truly live life as God intended.

The greatest thing about craving more of Jesus and knowing Him is that with each morsel we take in, we are satisfied. However in our satisfaction, we still desire more. Unlike “still wanting” we are not disappointed, because we become more and more like Him as we seek Him. Each new piece of knowledge enters our inner man and our old self wastes away. By the knowledge of Christ and His surpassing greatness we are renewed day by day.  It’s like taking a bath. The dirt of our old self vanishes, while we are being refreshed with His Nature.

Hunger is not something anyone really wants to experience, unless our hunger is craving the knowledge of Christ. Just as a deer pants for water, or as a dying man is parched for life, or a famished and debilitated child is desperate for food and healing – in the same way we need to feverishly desire God.

We need to seek to know Christ – seek for intimacy with Him; seek with a violent craving for the presence of the Lord. Nothing will gratify us like Christ can.

If our flesh is what we boast in, we will always be thirsty.

If our strength is what we pride in, we will always be weak.

If our accomplishments are what wow us, we will always be disappointed.

When we make it our goal to glory in our accomplishments, we will fight for them with selfishness, greed and deception. The old sinful nature will rule our heart, mind, and soul. We will not look like Christ; we will look like His enemy.

We will consider suffering weakness.

We will consider tragedy failure.

We will see change as ruin.

But if we are like Paul and make it our goal, “to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. (To) want to suffer with him, sharing in His death, ….(we can trust) that one way or another we will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11).

If Christ is who we boast in, we will always be gratified.

If Christ is our strength, we will always experience more power.

If His accomplishments are what wow us, we will see Him do infinitely more.

We will embrace suffering as growth. Tragedy will be dear to us for it will be our teacher. We will walk happily in change because change will shine light into our darkness. We will overcome spiritual starvation and be fed adequately by the Savior’s vat. Resurrection will have more meaning because death to ourselves brings us home to His Holiness.

My friend, hunger for the right thing. Hunger for more of Jesus and less of yourself. You will find that when God opens His hand to you, your hunger will be forever satisfied.

Love is Knocking at Your Door…


“Knock, knock,” Love taps loudly on the door. He is standing there hoping the ones He cares for will answer. He stands and stands, knocking with great eagerness to enter and dine with the disciples He calls friends.

Yet, no answer comes.

He knows they are inside. He peers through the window, observing how busy they are. Scurrying here and there, speaking His name, “Praise Jesus!” He hears His name spoken with great emphasis; however, His name shares praise with another’s – man’s.

He listens carefully at the door and hears all the great accomplishments His friends are doing and planning to do; He hears them discuss the great strides they plan to make. But if they would just let Him in, He knows that He could show them so much more.

As Jesus looks, Love watches intently at the faces of those whom He cherishes; He hears many things that seem good, but the faces of each one looks tired, angry, and empty.

He knocks with great passion…

still no answer…

so He waits because He loves.

As Jesus waits, He ponders with determination; the only way for His disciples to allow Him into their home, into their life, into their work is through discipline.

He says with great earnest as He continues to knock, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).
Jesus brings toil, tragedy, change and strife to this little home of believers. The upset is tumultuous and very uncomfortable. Some fall to their knees in defeat for they have known in the past the hand of discipline that comes from the Lord. Others stand to the side and deliberate how man can fix this. And others just leave the home to find another to live. Then there is that lonely one who hears Jesus knocking and opens the door and lets Him in. With this one, Jesus comes in and dines; this one lone person ate with the Savior.

A change began to happen in the home. Some joined the meal with Jesus. The one who answered the door, afresh, each saw Jesus for the first time.

Others stood by skeptical and feeling threatened and they said, “Who is this person who interrupts our plans?”

As their skepticism grew, their hearts became hardened to the truth that Jesus shared. However, the ones dining with him listened with open hearts and ears and eyes.

Suddenly, Jesus noticed their eyes were no longer darkened by fatigue, dander and futility. They were full of wonder, hope and faith. Laughter filled the table, joy encompassed the heart, and power seem to propel the gathering.

Quickly, the one who opened the door for Jesus stood with head bowed low and said with humility of heart, “We have sinned and we repent; forgive us, Lord; from this day forward with great earnest we declare that we will, ‘rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. We will meditate on your precepts and pay attention to your ways. We will delight in your decrees; we will not ignore your word’” (Psalm 119:14-15).
After dinner, they settled in the library for dessert and tea. Jesus spoke with a loving tone to each,

“My sons and daughters, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His child” (Hebrews 12:5-6). 

At that moment, each person felt the power of the Spirit of God move in and among them. They knew at that time Jesus was not just an outsider looking in on his friends who were working and striving, He was now the leader moving in and around them to do the immeasurably more than they could ever imagine.

However, because of His great love, Jesus could not forget the others. Resentful, the others reclined in the dining room eating their own meal and feeling frustrated and filled with fret.

Their plans were interrupted; their accomplishments shortened; their hearts became cold; the chatter around the table was loud; the room was filled with gossip and angry words. The fury was thick and the noise so brass that they did not hear nor notice Jesus standing outside the dining hall, looking in, knocking with great love to enter and dine with the disciples He calls friends.

Love was knocking. And no one came.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” – Jesus