Thursday, December 25, 2008



OK, so Jesus says "Where two or three gather together in His name, He will be in their midst", but is there any other indicator about seeing Jesus at work in your life? I think there are a few helpful guidelines in finding Jesus at work around you.

FIRST-Jesus is focused on those in need, therefore look for Jesus as you are able to show concern for and offer help for the needy around you. This is where His heart is. He even says that when you feed, clothe and love those in need, you are actually ministering to Jesus, Himself.

SECOND-Jesus is focused on children, therefore look for Jesus to be hanging around them. Children do see things differently and say things innocently from the heart.

THIRD-Jesus doesn't make appointments; He will show up unexpectedly. If your day is interrupted, look for Jesus to show up in that interruption. Instead of being annoyed with your schedule being interrupted, look for Jesus there. In examining the life of Jesus you will see that He walked in and out of people's lives on His calendar. Although there are a few times Jesus initiates encounters with people, most of the time people seek Him out personally or on behalf of loved ones. In either case, when Jesus encounters a person in need, His touch is always healing and life-giving. None of these encounters were on anyone's appointment book. Each was an interruption to their daily routine.

If you are met with irritations or troubles, look for Jesus to show up through these. I have found that some of the most irritating people I know have been used by the Lord to teach me something I really needed. Look for Jesus to show up in the midst of your troubles, too. It's not that Jesus causes us these irritations or troubles; He is always present to use them for our benefit.

You see, the reason why you can find Jesus around you throughout your day is that Jesus is relentlessly searching for children and child-like faith, those who are in need and those who are caught up with irritations and troubles. And He uses all of these players and situations to grow us up spiritually.

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke Jesus offers three stories about His relentless search for those who are lost-the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost child-the prodigal son. All of these illustrate the primary theme of Jesus' day every day. He is out to seek and to save or rescue those who have lost their way.

No matter what the touch of Jesus accomplishes in the life of a person, there is always the same result. Each and every person comes to the point of repentance. "Repentance" gets a bad rap. Most think of repentance as a highly emotional decision-a dramatic conversion experience. Now, repentance may include such emotion, but basically repentance means to change your mind about something or change your direction-turn around. It is usually referring to turning back to God-getting back on track. I like to think about it as simply coming to your senses.

There is an interesting encounter with Jesus that Jesus actually initiates. It's when Jesus met a tax-collector by the name of Zaccheus. Let's look in on what happened: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

NOTE that Jesus invites Himself to lunch at Zach's house. And even before they made it to his house for lunch, there is an immediate change in the heart of Zaccheus. It's amazing to me how quickly Zaccheus wants to rectify his wrongs against the people he had over-taxed. He repented. He came to his senses about what he was doing.

I see this all of the time with people. When they encounter Jesus, there is a dramatic coming to their senses about material things, about their family responsibilities, about their finances and about their sense of mission. This initial response to an encounter with Jesus indicates a genuine heart decision to follow Jesus.

Now note what Jesus' response was to the changes in Zaccheus. Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:1-10)

When you're looking for Jesus everyday, you will find Him actively seeking those who have lost their way. What Jesus wants from you is to be aware of His activity, cooperate with Him in His many encounters with people around you and to do whatever you can do to advance the conversation of Jesus in the marketplace. You see, when you are looking for Jesus every day, you begin to partner with Him. To be a partner with Jesus is to participate in bringing people to their senses. By the way, your life will begin to make more sense, too.

So, seek for Jesus and you will find Him every day. He is setting up all kinds of random appointments every day. All He wants you to do is to show up!



The Christmas story is so frequently rehearsed and yet still Jesus' name is strangely missing from many presentations-especially in the marketplace. People make the connection between Santa Claus and Christmas trees with Christianity and this mistaken connection spills over to Jesus. But the birth of Jesus is so not what Christmas has become. There are so many ways to approach the birth of Jesus, but I want to suggest four observations that have been resonating with me and a few friends lately.

FIRST-Jesus came to dwell among us-TO BE WITH US: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "GOD WITH US"). (Matthew 1:23) GOD WITH US! Christmas is all about God wanting to come down here and make Himself at home with us.

SECOND-Jesus called a few TO BE WITH THEM: He appointed twelve that they might BE WITH HIM. (Mark 3:14-15) Jesus set out to accomplish the work God, the Father, had asked Him to do-to be with the few the Father brought to Him and to teach them about His name. Jesus said: "and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26) Imagine that! The love with which the Father loved Jesus can be in us and Jesus be in us at the same time!

THIRD-Jesus continues TO BE WITH US TODAY. Jesus shares with us the plan for continuing to dwell WITH US today: "If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

"Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home (our dwelling place) with them." (John 14)

Jesus also shares with us how He will show up and make Himself known among us. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will show up in their midst." Jesus will show up as a few of us gather in His name. He still is inviting a few for Him TO BE WITH THEM today!

You see, Jesus through His Spirit is present WITH US right now and welcomes us. After seeing how the Gentiles (the non-Jews) readily believed Jesus enough to follow Him, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35)

Paul speaks to this same thing, when he was speaking in the marketplace in Athens. He said: "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' (Acts 17:24-28)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, Jesus gave His disciples one final command to make disciples of all nations and cultures. He envelopes this command with these words: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." Then he said: And surely I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the very end of the age." (MT 28:19-20) He doesn't say I will be with you again someday. He says "I am with you always-right now on into eternity!

This is the mystery that has been revealed through the coming of Jesus. It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory". Literally the mystery is Christ among y'all. This is just another rendition of "Where two or three are gathered together in my name".

Jesus came as Immanuel-TO BE WITH US and HE IS STILL HERE WITH US today, therefore: · We don't have to ask Him to be with us! He already is! · We don't have to ask Him to bless us! He already has! · We don't have to look for Him! He is invisible, but dynamically present! · We don't have to conjure Him up through powerful charismatic experiences! He is the one who has powerfully come to dwell WITH US! · We don't have to be anything other than we are! He wants to dwell with you just as you are!

A friend in Jesus recently said it this way: Jesus became like us so that we might become like Him and He came to live WITH US for a time so that we might live WITH HIM for eternity. And guess what? Eternity starts the moment you realize that Jesus is Immanuel and you decide to follow Him.

Now to me, this makes Christmas the merriest of holidays! GOD WITH US started 2000+ years ago and He continues to be WITH US today. This is why I talk to Him throughout the day. This is why I am in a constant conversation with Jesus asking a very simple question, "What do you have for me today, Jesus?" And when I ask, He shows up. And when I don't ask, I don't see Him or even think of Him. Since I know God is WITH US, I am so much more at ease about my day. GOD WITH US! Think it over!