Thursday, May 25, 2017

Don't Look Up--Look Around for Signs of the kingdom

Imagine the days right after Jesus rose from the dead. His friends, with eyes still sore from tears and grief met him again and they knew he was alive.
Jesus' body still had marks from the nails and the sword, but that didn't matter. He was alive. And now his friends got together around him. It was joy – joy beyond compare.

Luke writes in Acts, when they had all come together
Jesus friends likely never wanted this moment to end. They thought this was the moment when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus was alive—and now they asked him plainly,
Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:6
They were looking in that moment to their immediate future; and what they expected was news of the kingdom breaking in right then and there. Jesus response wasn't exactly what they expected to hear.
It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
Rather than telling his followers a date and time when Jesus would begin his reign as a king here on earth Jesus made a promise for his followers.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
This promise has stood as a source of hope for 2000 years, for the first believers, for all who have faith in Jesus in our time, and for all who will have faith in the years to come.

While the disciples listened to Jesus he rose up towards heaven. As he was going up and the friends of Jesus gazed up into the sky and two men in dazzling white robes showed up. They asked the disciples,
Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?
These men in dazzling white (angels?) spoke of a mystery.
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven I here a word here for people today.
Stop looking up
Start looking around you
Stop looking for the signs of the kingdom in the sky—start looking for the places where the kingdom is already and not yet here.
Stop looking up
Start looking around you.

There's an obsession among American evangelicals with the end of time. But Jesus has said there's something we don't know. That means there's a part of the story God's redemptive plan that we don't know. And that includes the end.

Many over the past 2000 years have pretended they have some hidden inner knowledge gleaned from their interpretations of times and signs. But Jesus was bold and his answer is plain for anyone willing to listen and hear what he actually has to say.
It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
Lord is this the time? Many ask—and they look for answers. They scour ancient prophets looking for clues to a puzzle that Jesus says plainly can't be solved because it's not for us to know.
Peace and thanks for reading,

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jesus promised to send an advocate John 14:15-21

Jesus made a promise to his friends the night before he died (John 14:16). Jesus would ask the Father to send an advocate – the Spirit – to be with them forever.

Jesus' promise gave hope to the people who made up the church 2000 years ago. And the same promise gives hope today and for days to come. Jesus assures all believers God's Spirit abides in them in good seasons and out.

There are times when this promise just rings true and it's easy to believe. But there are other times—times when it's hard to believe. And in that day it matters all the more who made and keeps the promise. Jesus made the promise—the Spirit will come not from us but from God to dwell with us. This is good news. Even if we lose every earthly belonging we still have reason to hope. Even if our faith falters—God remains faithful.

Many tyrants have tried to squelch the Christians faith. But the promise Jesus made remains—we have an advocate. We have the Spirit who comes to bring us life. And the life we have in the Spirit only begins in this world. AMEN
Peace, and thanks for reading. John