Angry

Jesus got angry. As a matter-of-fact, He made a whip with His own hands and “laid leather” to the backs of those He was angry with:

“And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” – John 2:14-15 NKJV

And while the dust was settling, He said:

“Take these things [doves] away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” – John 2:16b NKJV

Jesus showed anger without sinning; so what does that mean for us? It means we see Him being zealous for the right things. In John chapter 2, it was for God’s house. He wasn’t angry over decorum, protocol, or social cause, He was angry over the corruption of purpose. However, it doesn’t provide us a license to let off steam when we want to. Jesus’ actions were deliberate, not from the loss of self-control (such as Moses striking the rock in the desert).

So what angers you and how do you handle it? Does it stay within the boundaries of zeal for the right things, or does it slip into reaction or bitterness toward someone? It can be tough to navigate, but Jesus knows what it feels like. Prayer is an absolute necessity for discerning the difference.

“Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” – Psalm 4:4-5 NKJV

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Unclear

Have you ever faced a problem without a clear solution to pray for? Jesus’ Mom did. Her friends were out of wine at their wedding feast (which was a substantial issue considering the structured nature and social implications of such celebrations). She knew who to go to, but she asked nothing. She didn’t ask Jesus to go buy more or to help calm the quests; she simply said, “They have no wine.”

Then Jesus replied: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

And Mary declares: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  – John 2:3a-5b NKJV

At this specific point, the solution was still unclear. Even after Jesus gave the instruction to fill the pots with water, it still wasn’t clear, because the miracle of the wine didn’t happen until they drew out of the pots. Sometimes, life can present us with similar moments. Situations can arise where there isn’t a clear direction to pray for and those are the times to simply share with Him, then wait for the next word. And the next word may be something less-than-miraculous like; “get up from your desk and take a walk”, “text _________ and say hello”, etc. After that, the solution may come, but you have to draw the water first, then wait for what’s next.

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Seeking

We all have questions. Even Jesus asked questions. As a matter of fact, He asked a lot of questions, but not for need of more information. His questions were for the listeners’ benefit. In John 1, we find:

“Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” – John 1:35-39a NKJV

What were they seeking?

Since these two men (John & Andrew) were already disciples of John the Baptist, they were obviously interested in spiritual things, but throughout the gospels the disciples dreamed of a glorious earthly kingdom. One-by-one those desires had to be slowly set aside to “follow” Jesus. He directed them to:

“…seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matt. 6:33 NKJV

What are you seeking today? Are your prayers and goals kingdom-oriented? “Seek first His kingdom…”

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Wisdom 15.16

“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble.” – Proverbs 15:16 NKJV

Peace that comes from abiding in God’s presence is more valuable than the deceptive promises of worldly things. It also generates a contentment that sets the heart at ease; even when the nearby environment is not.

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Tempted with Opportunity

Satan offered Jesus a short-cut to glory. For the last wilderness test, the temptation of convenience was for sale. And with the worldly kingdoms on display, this was how the sales pitch went:

Satan: “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”  – Matthew 4:9-10 NKJV

Scholars note the emphasis of the verb in Satan’s offer means “just once”. In other words, he’s saying, “Just acknowledge me as the one in charge, then you can avoid the cross and still get the kingdom.” But the cross was the very reason He came and what moved Him forward. It was the price of redemption and He loved us too much to take short-cuts.

Satan still seeks worshipers through false religions, self-centered pursuits, and other offerings, but only God is worthy of worship. He is the only one worthy of titles such as: Creator, Almighty God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Ancient of Days, The Great I Am, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Savior! How will you acknowledge Him today, and what service will you offer?

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Tempted with Insecurity

Jesus again was tested in the wilderness, and Satan challenged Jesus’ scripture-based rebuttal with a passage quote of his own:

Satan: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down [from this pinnacle], for it is written ‘He shall give His angels charge over you’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”  – Matthew 4:6-7 NKJV

The temptation to grab control was hidden within the taunt. You can sense the sneering sarcasm as if he was saying, “Ok, you want to reference scripture; how about the one promising God’s protection? You’re supposed to be the Son of God, so prove it!”

There was no question God was watching over Jesus. Only a few weeks earlier, the Father had audibly endorsed Him while coming up from baptism. However, at this early stage, there were no crowds or dinner invitations yet, only wilderness. So why not start things off with a “bang”? After all, the message was supremely important, wouldn’t a little side-show action be good to generate some interest? No, Jesus was secure in who He was, and God was working a better plan to authenticate His Son; resurrection from the dead.

Are you secure with who you are in Christ? There’s nothing to prove to others, except authenticity; and that means living faithfully and sharing the truth as best you can.

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The Lord’s Day 1-7-18

“Therefore by Him, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” – Hebrews 13:15 NKJV

Have you made the decision to praise Him today? Even though days and moods may change, our incredible God never does. He’s ALWAYS worthy!

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