As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.
Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.
We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
It is always important to be mindful of who you are surrounded by because it matters. As a child, we heard it from our parents and we didn’t want to listen. But then we got older and we started to see it play out. We realized that when we hung around certain people, we got in trouble because they liked to find trouble and you were right there along for the ride.
The Bible says that we should “walk with the wise and become wise.” If you spend time with people who are wise, you will glean so much. Just the same, if you “associate with fools” you will “get in trouble.” The foolish will pull you away. The foolish will plant seeds of doubt. The foolish will not encourage you to live in a godly manner.
We are not supposed to separate ourselves from the world; however, we need to be intentional with our relationships. You will become like the people who surround you. Today, look who you spend your time with each day. Are you walking with the wise or associating with fools?
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” – Proverbs 13:20 [NLT]
There are moments in life that certainly cannot be described as calm. Because of my intense energy issues, I invest a lot in an attempt to stay calm. I cannot have a lot of noise and light stimulation due to my diagnosis. I cannot have a lot of sugar or caffeine. Along with the removal of some items, I also have things I do in my life to help remove that extra crazy energy. I drink calming herbal teas like teas with chamomile and tension taming tea. I exercise, taking daily walks and using my Fit Board. I put on calming music. I use candles. Above all, I read God’s Word.
The Psalmist wrote about calming and quieting himself. This means that he slowed down and quieted his mind. As the Psalmist wrote, “My soul waits in silence for my God only” (62:1 NASB). This is something that we have to be intentional with to accomplish. We don’t naturally walk around calmed and quieted. In the age of social media and handheld technology, the world doesn’t really allow us to walk around like this because it’s wild and busy 24/7. As well, even if our minds have not been rewired from the new tech advancements, our minds have wandered for many years prior.
Today, take some time to calm yourself so that you can hear God speak. Find a quiet place to sit with God’s Word. Don’t feel pressured to speak. Open His Word. Read. Allow yourself to sit in silence with God. It is during these moments when we are able to hear the whisper of the One with the still small voice.
“Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” – Psalm 131:2 [NLT]
God positions people beside us to help. In a world that tries to teach us to use people and to see what they can do for us, the Bible speaks of a reverse system. Rather than seeking what we can get in this world, and what people can do for us, we are taught that we should seek the best interests of others. We are taught that we are to look out for our fellow man. We are to speak life. We are to encourage, We are to build up.
In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul speaks about people who are strong in the Lord. These spiritually mature are to be considerate to others. We are to recognize what is most important. It isn’t about pleasing ourselves. It is not about us at all. Answering the command of the Lord, we are to love others. We should help others to do what is right. We should invest in people. Build them up in the Lord. This is relationship. This is living intentional. This is reaching outward.
Today, consider who God has placed around you. There are mentors around you, who are being led by the Spirit to help build you up. Then there are people around you who are growing in the Lord. Speak life to them. Walk beside them. Take time with them. Invest in them. Remember that you once were there. Align yourself to them and help them to sink their roots deeper into Christ Jesus.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” – Romans 15:1-2 [NLT]
I love the sense of taste. I will admit that I like food. When I have the time, I love to experiment in the kitchen with different foods. You never know if you like something unless you taste it. I’ve told my children about this numerous times. You must first taste it. I used to make them take a bit of anything new that I tried. If they didn’t like whatever I had made, just so long as they took the bite and tried the new concoction.
When the Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” it reminds me of this kitchen taste test moment. You cannot taste a fork full of turkey stroganoff for someone else. When you take a bite to taste something, you are using your own mouth. It is your own taste buds that are sensing whatever you have placed in your mouth. It is your own brain that is receiving messages to let you know if you like something or do not like something.
So what does it mean to taste and see that the Lord is good? The Message translates this as, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” This verse invites us to spend time with God, to look at God—seriously look to Him. Experience Him. Walk in faith, giving Him the opportunity to show you Who He is. Understand that no one else can taste for you. Just like with food, you have to be the taste tester when it comes to tasting the Lord. No one else can help you get saved. Your relationship with God is just the two of you. Today, taste and see that the LORD is good.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” – Psalm 34:8 [NLT]
In Psalm 28:5, we read about a people who care nothing for what God has done or for what God has made. Consider this for a moment. The person cares nothing for what the Lord has done. The person cares nothing for what God’s hands have made. In this verse we read about 1) acknowledging God – Who He is and what He has done, and 2) caring for what God has made.
The people did not care about God, about what He made, about what He did. They lacked adoration for God. They lacked compassion for His Creation. This includes lacking compassion for people. These people were doing the opposite of what Jesus says is most important: Love God, love people.
“Care nothing” can be seen as disregard or lack of consideration. The Message translates this as the people having “no idea how God works or what He is up to.” It all points back to acknowledging the Lord and desiring a relationship with Him, wanting to know Him more. As you have this regard for Him, as you grow in your relationship with Him, you will grow in your love for the things He loves. You will care for what He has done and for what His hands have made.
“They care nothing for what the LORD has done or for what His hands have made. So He will tear them down, and they will never be rebuilt!” – Psalm 28:5 [NLT]