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Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” - Matthew 28:18 (NLT)
DON’T SCROLL PAST THIS!
Have you seen a number of posts and emails lately from organizations, leaders, and friends that urge you to pay attention to their content? Researchers are even saying that we are in an “attention crisis.” The thought is that the amount of content being created is simply too much for us to handle. Surprising, I know! Thankfully, we are not forced to pay attention to anything. Well, maybe our bosses and spouses, but we, for the most part, get to choose what we give our attention to.
Believe it or not, Jesus had a way of drawing attention back in His day. Whether He was healing people, turning water into wine, walking on water, or feeding thousands with sardines and crackers, Jesus caught people’s attention everywhere He went. However, He couldn’t care less how many likes, retweets, and shares He got. He simply had a mission to love people by coming to Earth to die for their sins.
Fortunately for us, Jesus didn’t just die. He rose triumphantly out of the grave. After His resurrection, Jesus asks the disciples to meet him in Galilee—a famous location where He had already performed many miracles. What a sight it must have been when they arrived in Galilee and Jesus allowed Thomas to reach into the gaping holes in His hands and the wound in His side after He had walked out of the tomb. In the midst of all the commotion and shock following the resurrection, Jesus has a “DON’T SCROLL PAST THIS” moment with His disciples.
He explains that He has been given all authority in Heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18). After this, Jesus famously challenges His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) Ultimately what He says in verse 18 is, “DON’T MISS THIS.” Jesus says that it is because of who He is, not who the disciples were, that they were empowered to go and tell the world the Good News. Don’t miss the fact that Jesus says the same thing to you and I…
No matter how dark your past,
No matter how inadequate you feel,
No matter how many mistakes you’ve made,
Jesus is calling you to serve in His Kingdom.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:21 (NIV)
"Immanuel Quickley with another three!"
"Anything can happen in March."
"A true Cinderella story this season."
I was disappointed that Big Blue Nation didn’t get to experience what promised to be an intriguing NCAA Tournament run this season. I miss getting to cheer for the Cinderella story that not even the top analysts could predict. I know it’s just a sport, but I really missed not getting to enjoy March Madness this year. Instead, we have to settle for watching endless amounts of news, right?
After weeks of watching the news and not getting to enjoy the things I love (the gym, the actual presence of people, delicious restaurants, my job), it’s easy for me to grow pessimistic about the current state of our world. Evil might seem to be winning. Bad things keep happening, and I desperately long for things to get better. In my darkest moments, I ask Jesus, “Will it ever stop?” When we ask that question, Jesus challenges us to look at His life. I like the way pastor Tim Keller puts it: “So, if we embrace the Christian teaching that Jesus is God and that He went to the Cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on Earth.”
Jesus being sent to the cross was the most evil event in human history. He was the one faultless man that was brutally killed for all of the world to see and behold. Evil seemed to win, yet God was writing a very different story. That brutal cross became the means through which all of humanity could find salvation. That rugged cross became the battle cry for hope. That dark, cursed tree brought light to the world. In other words, the cross was meant for evil, but God intended it for good.
Because God endured the worst, He understands and knows our pain. Evil is present in our world, but we don’t have to just accept it. As believers, we must take seriously Paul’s challenge to “overcome evil with good.” Let’s not settle for the way things are. Let’s be the church. Let’s be people who overcome the darkness with light. Let’s be people who overcome evil with good!
They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:46-47 (NLT)
“And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Those may be some of my favorite words in the Bible. During this time, the New Testament Church had just been founded, and Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, found the courage to boldly proclaim the Good News! People were learning who Jesus is and began to live in the new life and freedom that He offered. The Holy Spirit guided the believers’ thoughts and actions. People sold property, possessions, and other material things to benefit those in need. Money became a means to bless others. People genuinely sought to serve one another in any way they could.
The church was void of divisiveness, selfishness, and greed. There was no lust, pride, or malice. There was no selfishness. People weren’t too busy to serve one another. Envy ceased to exist. Jealousy was canceled. It must have been something beautiful to behold. What a time to be alive.
Looking out my window as I write, the sun is shining, and I’m witnessing joy in my neighborhood like I’ve never seen before. People are talking and laughing with one another (at least six feet apart, of course). Kids are brightening the sidewalks with vivid colors and designs in chalk. Home projects are finally getting finished. As I walk through my neighborhood, there is a sense of connection that I’ve never felt before. Even when I lock eyes with complete strangers, there is a profound sense that we’re all in this together.
What if we didn’t go back to life as normal after this is all over? What if we decided to live like brothers and sisters of the Most High King? What if we truly lived like we’re all in this together? What if we continue to serve one another and love one another like they did in the days of the early church?
We can overcome evil with good.
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. - 1 John 3:11 (NLT)
Have you had the opportunity to witness someone who has gone above and beyond throughout this unique season to love others? I received a letter the other day from one of my friends that had a bookmark in it. My name was neatly crafted on this handmade bookmark. My friend who wrote this letter isn’t just any old friend. I get to do ministry with this friend, and I’ve had the privilege to sit back and learn from her over about a two year span. Over and over again, this friend goes above and beyond to serve others and make them feel special. She gives up days of her week serving others with pure joy. She invests in building strong relationships with others. She values others above herself. Have you ever met someone like that?
As we continue reading in 1 John, we arrive at this verse: “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18)
In the same sense that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, good things come out of the goodness stored up inside us. (Matthew 12:35-36) If we have love in our hearts, love will flow out of us through our actions. This truth begs us to ask the question, “What fills our hearts?” Is it lust, jealousy, greed, envy, deceit, pain, disappointment, or failure? Or is it the love and grace of Jesus?
As I mentioned earlier, my friend isn’t just any old friend. My friend’s name is Shelley Lane, and she is a warrior. Cerebral palsy doesn’t get to rule my friend’s life; rather my friend allows the love, hope, and joy of Jesus to reign supreme in her heart. The Holy Spirit guides Shelley’s life, and her actions are a direct response to the truth that she holds so dear—we should love one another. Nothing can stop her because of the strength she finds in Jesus.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. - Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
Disney World might just be the most magical place on earth. I just can’t help but feel like everything is right in the world when I see my favorite childhood characters in costume (Mike Wazowski, of course), get to fly down incredible roller coasters, and pay $14 for a hot dog and bottle of water. The novelty of it all captures my imagination. Walt Disney set out with a dream to create a place where adults and kids alike could escape from the harsh reality of life as we know it and experience something at Disney so unique and special that you never want to leave. As far as Disney is from Heaven, the concept and the perfection of it all makes me long for Home—my eternal Home with Jesus.
Believe it or not, there is coming a day when death will cease to exist. Global pandemics will be no more. Cancer will not steal our beloved ones from us any longer. Car accidents can’t destroy lives. Addictions won’t hold us hostage. As the old hymn says, “This world is not our home; we’re just a passing through.” The book of James puts it this way: “Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Even when this life is over, we can have inexplicable hope because better things are to come for those who’ve experienced the grace of Jesus—Heaven.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” says Jesus. (Matthew 28:19) Because grace is for all and hope is for everyone, GO! Go and share this hope with your friends, family, co-workers, boss, server, cashier, bank teller, caregiver, and everyone you get to interact with.
Feel free to reach out to me if you’ve connected with anything we’ve been unpacking this week! I’d be happy to help you find a next step and connect you with the right people and ministries if God is stirring you to action. If you’ve never experienced this incredible hope, I’d love to talk with you more about that, too!
Who can you give hope to? Write down the name God brings to mind and pray for this person daily for the next 30 days... (I promise you can do it!) Ask God in your prayer time to reveal ways to extend hope, share the message of hope, and for this individual to truly experience the eternal hope of the Father.Share Tweet