Mary the mother of Jesus was an unbeliever!

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This week’s reading is from Luke 8:21. Jesus said, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the Word of God and do it.” This seems a bit harsh to me. Jesus’ mother and his brothers had come to see Him and this is how Jesus treated them! But when you read this story in the Gospel of Mark 3:21-35 you find out that the reason they were coming to see Jesus was because they thought He was having a nervous breakdown! Also in the Gospel of John chapter 7 we are told that Jesus brothers did not believe in Him. That is a reasonable reaction. How would you feel if your brother said things like: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me?” (John 14:6).

They believed Jesus was the Messiah when He was young and as He grew up. But their understanding of the Messiah was that He would be the Deliverer. They thought He was going to bring Israel back to its glory like under King David and drive the Romans out. When Jesus began His ministry they were waiting for Him to raise an army and deliver Israel. When He did not do this they began to wonder. He was just going around and healing people and telling them about God and their need to repent. He was making enemies with the Jewish leaders and calling them hypocrites. After a while they thought He had gone crazy and they tried to stop Him. They did not understand at all that the Messiah was to deliver them from their sins, not from the Roman oppression.

Sometimes those most difficult people for us to reach with the love of Jesus can be found in our own families. We are not alone in that challenge, Jesus was rejected by His own family. It was not until after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead that we read about Jesus’ family believing in Him. In Acts 1:14 we read that the apostles came together to pray, “With the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Let’s not be discouraged if our family or close friends don’t understand our faith in God. Instead, let’s go to the Lord and ask Him to lead us and show us how to love, serve, and respect them. Instead of preaching to them let’s let our lights shine and ask God to help us be a witness. It may take a while but there is always hope as long as we do not give up.

When Jesus asks you to do something dumb

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This week’s reading is from Luke 5:5. The disciples had fished all night and caught nothing. They had come to shore, washed off their nets and were ready for bed. Jesus wanted to preach and He asked to use one of their boats. When He was done, He asked them to go back out and cast their nets. They knew that fishing was not good in the middle of the day, plus they had just cleaned everything off, yet Peter’s response is worth our notice. “Nevertheless at Your Word I will let down the net.” I like how some of the other translations read this passage. “If You say so, I will let down the net.”

Sometimes God by His Holy Spirit may ask us to do things that just do not make sense to us. He may ask us to be kind to someone who is not a nice person, or to try again to restore a relationship that is completely broken, or give money when we don’t think we have enough, or talk to a stranger about God’s love. The list is endless. I believe these are opportunities to see something spectacular happen! We can say no but we miss out when we do. In this passage we read that once Peter let down that net they caught so many fish that their boat actually began to sink! Now that is a story to tell someone. The next time God challenges you to do something that just does not make sense, don’t be too quick to say no, it may be your opportunity for something exciting happen! Remember this, good stories don’t come cheap! Someone usually has to take the risk.

Identity check

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This week’s reading in found in Luke 3:21-22. When Jesus was water baptized the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and a voice from heaven was heard which said, “You are My beloved Son: in You I am well pleased.” Focus with me for a moment upon what the Father said, “You are my Son…” What is the Father doing? He is confirming Jesus’ identity. “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus is unique in that He is the only divine Son of God. There is no other to compare with Him and there never will be. We are partakers of the divine nature but we are not divine and never will be. But having said that, let me also say this: every born again believer needs to hear something like this in his spirit from the Father. “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” The Father is pleased with us because we are “in Christ”, covered by His precious blood and sanctified by His Spirit. I can think of no better therapy for the human soul than to hear from God, “You are my child, whom I love; with you am well pleased.”

Those words from heaven prepared Jesus for the fierce battle He was about to fight concerning His identity. Nothing will equip you better for spiritual warfare like a word from heaven reminding you of who you are in Christ, reminding you of the Father’s love and His acceptance of you. Jesus had his identity confirmed many times throughout His life. When He was up in the mountain and was transfigured, God spoke and reaffirmed His identity. I believe our personal quiet times, devotional times, are when we have our identity re-affirmed. It is not just a one-time thing. For our own good, for our own emotional health and spiritual well-being, we need to hear our heavenly Father’s words of love and assurance. When we neglect intimacy with God we deprive ourselves of much needed identity affirmation. It’s tragic when we try to get it somewhere else because that is always insufficient. Only God has the ultimate right to tell you who you are. Our identity is defined by the Father and by our relationship with Him. Jesus had his identity confirmed. Have you had your identity confirmed?

Questioning God

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This week’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke 1:18-35. Two people had angels appear to them and tell them something impossible was going to happen in their lives, Zacharias and Mary. They both were amazed at what they were told and both asked questions about how it was going to happen, but Zacharias was struck dumb for the way he asked and Mary was blessed! So there must be a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way to ask God questions! When Zacharias was told his wife was going to bear a son in her old age, he did not believe it was possible. How sad that a man who was supposed to be a spiritual leader could not believe when God made him a great promise. We need to careful not to allow doubt and cynicism to creep into our lives as we get older. It will hinder God’s work in our lives. Now when the young girl, Mary, was told she was going to have a child even though she was a virgin, she just asked if she was supposed to do something to make this happen. She did not doubt that God was going to do what He said; she just was not sure what she was supposed to do. It is all right to be honest and ask God when we don’t understand something, but it is not all right to question whether God is really going to do what He says He is going to do. Is there something God is speaking to you about, if so, are you questioning His ability to do it or are you asking Him what He wants you to do? There is a difference!