Tag Archives: decisions

Today’s Scripture – August 4, 2017

Luke 6:12-16 (NIV) One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus prayed constantly. But before important decisions and events, prayer was even more important to Him.

This decision, who would be in His inner circle, was not just important, but vital to His mission. Those that He chose would be the ones who would walk most closely with Him through the next two years, who would receive authority from Him to heal diseases and cast out demons, and who would be sent out to preach the good news of the kingdom ahead of Him. They would also need to go out after His ascension and continue the growth of the kingdom of God all over the world. So Jesus prayed through the night until He knew for certain which of His followers the Father had chosen for these vital roles.

The men Jesus selected were unremarkable. He did not choose spiritual superstars from among the Pharisees who followed Him. Nor did He petition well-known priests or Levites. He chose common working-class people, like fishermen and tax collectors. The one thing that they had in common was that they had all left behind their families and their livelihoods to follow Him.

Many question the selection of Judas Iscariot to be one of the inner circle, especially if Jesus was able to see into the hearts of people (John 2:25). Didn’t He know that betrayal was in the soul of this guy? Actually God knew precisely who Judas was and what he was capable of, and so did Jesus. By selecting him, by keeping him in His inner circle, by even allowing him to participate in the power of the kingdom, Jesus gave him every opportunity to turn aside from the path of betrayal, knowing that ultimately he would sell Him out anyway.

Father, I appreciate the fact that Jesus chose ordinary people to be in His inner circle instead of spiritual superstars. It helps me to see that Your kingdom is for ordinary people, like me. Jesus taught, and empowered, and transformed those regular guys, just like He teaches, and empowers, and transforms regular people today, and remakes them into genuine saints. Help me, like Jesus, to never write someone off as a candidate for Your kingdom because they are a nobody, nor to exalt somebody in my estimation because they are well-known. Instead, help me to focus on who You have called and remade each of them to be. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – January 4, 2014

John 9:39 (NIV):  Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Some people have a problem with the idea that Jesus came into the world for judgment on His first visit.  The typical argument goes like this:  The first time Jesus came, He came in love to save people and to show them Who God really is.  When He comes back, THEN He will come in judgment on those who didn’t receive Him.  But then, what do you do with this verse, these words from Jesus’ own lips?

Jesus did come the first time to save people from their sins and to show them Who God really is.  But in doing that, He automatically caused people to choose sides – to sort themselves into those who would accept Jesus for who He claimed to be (God in the flesh), and those who would reject Him, and thus reject God, the one Who sent Him.  So His very presence created both the opportunity to be saved and receive life, and the opportunity to stand against Him and bring judgment on oneself.

That same sorting, that same self-categorizing, goes on even today.  There are still those who are drawn to God through His people, who receive Jesus for Who He really is – the God-man through whom salvation was bought and paid for, and thus receive salvation and eternal life.  But there are also those who reject God’s people, who reject Jesus, and who thus reject God.  They sort themselves into the category of those who oppose God, oppose His agenda, and who will thus be subject to His wrath.

However, it is also important to remember that as long as there is life, there is hope.  Like Paul (and even like me!), people have opportunities to change their alignment; to stop rejecting Jesus, and to receive all of the life that has been made possible for them through His sacrifice.  Thorough a changing of their own choice, they can actually change the judgment that is awaiting them.  But that opportunity ends when they die and stand before God, when the judgment against them will be written for all eternity; or when Jesus returns, when the same thing will happen.  But it is crucial for all of God’s people to remember that even though their presence will tend to make people choose one side or the other, light or darkness, peace or war, life or death, no one should ever give up loving their neighbors, and even their enemies, praying for those who persecute them, and trying with all that is within them to try to turn those who have not yet chosen Jesus to turn into the way of life before it is too late.

Father, thank You for this reminder.  I was one who rejected Jesus, and even taught against Him.  But the faithful prayers and witness of Your people, and Your own love showing me my lostness, my doomed future, the judgment that I had drawn against myself by my own choices, drew me to the cross, to full surrender, and to eternal life.  Thank You for not giving up on me!

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