Jesus Will Be Arriving
“JESUS WILL ARRIVE IN 3 DAYS” displayed on my vacation rental manager app. I smiled. I never had a guest with the first name Jesus before. The message sparked my imagination.
What would I do if I knew Jesus Christ, my Savior, was returning in three days? [Please forgive the break from reality – I know none of us will know ahead of time (Matthew 24:36).]
Imagine with me — Jesus arrives in three days. My first reaction is joy. I’m going home. I will be with Jesus, my closest friend! God’s Son who suffered torture and death to bear the penalty for my rebellious, sinful life is coming to get me. The faithful One who stayed with me in times of deep sorrow, who carried my burdens and changed my life for the better is on His way. I will be taken away from this place riddled with death, hatred, evil, and unfairness. The epic day, the huge change in life as we know it, is happening in three days.
Amid all my exciting visions of trumpets blasting, the sky filled with angels, and praises to the Lord Jesus coming from all those around me who are being drawn to Him, I hit a moment of despair.
What about those who never believed they were sinners? Those who never reconciled with God the Father? I know some of them. I love them. God loves them. Their future will be much different. They will receive God’s judgment for their sins. They didn’t believe the Father loves them. They only believed what they thought was right. They never humbled themselves to God and admitted they had sinned against the great I AM. They thought it was all foolishness. They didn’t believe they needed forgiveness or mercy. And now, in three days, their souls will be forever separated from Almighty God and headed for hell. They will be judged. Jesus said, “they will go away into eternal punishment, outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30-46).
My spirit grieves for them. All of a sudden, I’m not elated anymore. Time’s up. The judgment is coming. In three days.
It’s not enough time. I don’t want anyone to spend eternity separated from Father God and suffering in hell. And, the truth is, it could be today.
But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many! And now to those who eagerly await him, he will appear a second time; not to deal with sin, but to bring us the fullness of salvation. (Hebrews 9:28 TPT)
Jesus Doesn’t Have Favorites
JANUARY 10, 2022
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1 (ESV)
Partiality: It’s little spoken about, but we know how it feels, and when we stop to think about it, we know how corrosive it is.
I have experienced partiality — an unfair bias against someone — in one way or another all of my life. As a kid, I remember being left out from birthday parties. I remember overhearing girls talking about how annoyed they were with me because of my generally joyful attitude. And I have had to experience all my life what it feels like to be excluded simply because I am a Black woman.
We can feel a sense of shame, wondering, Is there something wrong with me? We all know the answer, but when we are hurt, our assurance can become clouded by our false thoughts.
If your heart is hurting today from partiality, I want to say I’m genuinely sorry for the pain favoritism has caused you. But please know that, even if there are people in your life who play favorites against you, Jesus never will.
While I know how it feels to be on the wrong side of this kind of favoritism, I know I’m not immune from displaying it, too. It’s so natural to do. All of us will naturally play favorites, preferring those who are like us, or who can do something for us, over those who are not like us or who we perceive have less to offer. Our children and the children around us fight the same temptation to play favorites.
Thankfully, Jesus shows us a better way — a way of love.
In the Bible, James’ particular focus is partiality based on socioeconomic differences, but the application of the principle is broad. Our key verse contains not just the challenging command but the key to obeying it: “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (James 2:1, emphasis added).
I need to hold to my faith, and my faith reminds me that Jesus did not, and does not, have favorites. That’s such good news for all of us! Not only did He die for anyone who would believe, but also He interacted with all sorts of people. Here is our ultimate example of love, a love that knows no limits.
This is countercultural. God turns everything on its head. He inspires us and invites us to love others as He loves us. When we love someone who isn’t like us and has little to offer us, instead of showing partiality toward them, we’re loving like Jesus. We’re showing them Jesus.
As a mom, I have a glorious opportunity to live this out in front of my kids. No child has to be shown how to spot differences, make fun of others or exclude others from their games. As we welcome others, we get to teach our kids how the Lord chooses to love them, and we get to show our kids what it looks like to love others who aren’t like them.
Jesus doesn’t have favorites, and He calls us to choose to love in the way He does. That’s a glorious calling!
Heavenly Father, thank You that with You there’s never any favoritism — just Your loving welcome for sinners like me. I want to be like You and to show Your welcome to those around me who aren’t like me. Show me who I can love like You love today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Holy Spirit’s Guidance – Streams in the Desert – January 10
They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia (Acts 16:6).
It is interesting to study the methods of His guidance as it was extended towards these early heralds of the Cross. It consisted largely in prohibitions, when they attempted to take another course than the right. When they would turn to the left, to Asia, He stayed them. When they sought to turn to the right, to Bithynia, again He stayed them. In after years Paul would do some of the greatest work of his life in that very region; but just now the door was closed against him by the Holy Spirit. The time was not yet ripe for the attack on these apparently impregnable bastions of the kingdom of Satan. Apollos must come there for pioneer work. Paul and Barnabas are needed yet more urgently elsewhere, and must receive further training before undertaking this responsible task.
Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one. Say, “Blessed Spirit, I cast on Thee the entire responsibility of closing against my steps any and every course which is not of God. Let me hear Thy voice behind me whenever I turn to the right hand or the left.”
In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have been already treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called, unless you are clearly told to do something else. The Spirit of Jesus waits to be to you, O pilgrim, what He was to Paul. Only be careful to obey His least prohibition; and where, after believing prayer, there are no apparent hindrances, go forward with enlarged heart. Do not be surprised if the answer comes in closed doors. But when doors are shut right and left, an open road is sure to lead to Troas. There Luke awaits, and visions will point the way, where vast opportunities stand open, and faithful friends are waiting.
–Paul, by Meyer