Prayer is a cry for help

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The heart monitor by the bedside is beeping and keeping rhythm.  It reassures that life is still here, still being lived.

How many surgeries has it been?  Is this the fifth or sixth?  A close relative I know has had over twenty, which I can barely imagine.  And then, one week later, and I’m in another hospital, at another bedside, a completely different set of circumstances but another heart monitor, another intensive care room visit.

The cries go up to God.  “Help, Lord!” “Heal, restore complete health!”  “Please take away the pain!”

It’s clear that we need help.   (more…)

Continue ReadingPrayer is a cry for help

11. Temptation

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 11    (Matthew 4:1-11)

When you travel, you probably have a destination in mind.  Yet even with a destination defined, it is rarely a straight line to get there.  Jesus goes into the desert, which was not exactly a detour, but it isn’t the most direct route that human wisdom would choose for bringing in God’s Kingdom.  What important lesson needs to be learned in the wilderness?  Let’s see… (more…)

Continue Reading11. Temptation

10. Righteousness

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 10  (Matthew 3:13-17)

No sooner did John promise One greater would come after him, the Messiah (Christ), than Jesus appears with a request that defied all expectations.

Then Jesus appeared at the Jordan River, arriving from Galilee, and he wanted to be baptized by John.  John wanted to prevent it from happening and said, “I need to be baptized by you, and you’re coming to me?!”

Jesus answered, “Let it be this way. It perfectly fits within God’s will to fulfill all righteous requirements.”  So John allowed it.

After being buried in the waters, Jesus immediately came up out of the water and the heavens opened up and he saw God’s Spirit descending and landing on him like a dove. A commanding voice from heaven spoke: “This is my precious, beloved Son.  I am so happy with him!”  (Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus comes to John to be baptized.  John recognizes Jesus as greater than him, holier than him and having no need (more…)

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9. True Repentance

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 9  (Matthew 3:7-12)

Brace yourself!  Today’s part of the journey is going to be jolting.

When John saw many religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) were coming to be baptized, he shouted: “Sons of snakes!  Who suggested you should flee the coming wrath? You need to do something that shows you are really changing mind and heart, and don’t think  you can say “Abraham is our father” and that makes everything okay.  Being a child of Abraham is not the point.  God can raise up children of Abraham out of common rocks.  What matters is the tree of your life.  Is it green and producing fruit?  If it’s deadwood, the ax to chop it down is already being swung, and if there’s no fruit of true repentance, down it goes and into the fire!

“I’m baptizing you here in the water, turning your old life in a new direction–for the kingdom.  The one coming after me, the truly great One, who I’m hardly worthy of bowing down to–He will baptize you with God’s Holy Spirit  and fire.  He’s going to make a clean sweep of everything, separating wheat from chaff, and everything empty and false he’ll burn it up with the unquenchable fire.  (Matthew 3:7-12)

John has fierce and tough words for those holding power and influence, who have responsibility for leadership of the community.  (more…)

Continue Reading9. True Repentance