The Great Reversal

Sport has a large place in the lives of many people. By and large, sports fans love the underdog, especially when a team or individual comes from behind and wins the championship – a reversal of fortune.

In the Bible we see a similar kind of reversal. Jesus said, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matt.10:39). What is high is brought low. What is low is brought high. What is proud is humbled. What is out is in. What is in is out. That is because the standards and values of the kingdom are different than that of the world.

For example, it was David the shepherd boy who was picked to become king of Israel and not his older, stronger brothers. It was Jacob, the quiet man, who loved to stay around the tents, not Esau, the skillful hunter, who was given the birthright – although by cunning. It was Mary who was chosen to give birth to Jesus, not one of the thousands of women from better circumstances.

And how can we not mention the humble nature of our Saviour? Isaiah said of Him, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:2-3). Yet in his death he saved the world, his resurrection gives all men hope, and he ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand (Acts 2:36).

The theme of the great reversal is carried out through the whole of the scriptures. The book of James and the Sermon on the Mount turn upside down the values of much of the world.

Are your values in line with His?

– David Johnson, with additions from Tim Johnson

The Greatness of the Simple

Amos, the transplanted prophet who spoke against Samaria in its last decades, gave a memorable reply to the chief priest who suggested he needed to stop preaching, leave them alone and go back home. Amos said, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.”’ Amos was acknowledging he was a nobody, but God had given him divine directions to preach – and he was determined to do it.

God in his divine wisdom uses simple, ordinary things and people to do his work and fulfill his plans. Like Amos, God may place us in the lives of people for a season so that we can influence them to come back to Him. He may call us from unknown places to do his work. There were many known women in Bethlehem, but God chose a simple unknown woman named Mary to be the mother of Jesus. There were many known and popular men in Israel, but Jesus chose twelve unknown men to represent him in the world – fishermen who learned to fish for men. He gave them a simple message of his death, burial and resurrection to preach all over the world. God has a purpose for His simple message and for using simple people to share it. Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29? “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

Do you feel too plain and unsophisticated to do great things? Remember Amos and think again.

– Roy Graneau (of Edmonton), with revisions from Tim Johnson – by permission.

Matters of the Heart

Simeon startled Mary in the temple when he suddenly declared about her baby, “This child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) There would be great things ahead for which Jesus’ mother could be proud, but she also would feel tremendous pain. Every mother can identify with that. Continue reading

Last Stop Before Jerusalem

It is said that Jesus made his fatal journey to Jerusalem in the spring, 33 a.d. Due to historical errors in ancient date keeping, the exact time is unknown, although the world has settled on complicated formulas to settle an arbitrary date for what has come to be known as Easter. The actual Biblical accounts mention “winter” (John 10:23), and that people were warming themselves over fires at the Jewish trial of Jesus (John 18:18). A quick Internet search showed 20 C. weather in the city today (68 F); hardly a time for bonfires. Therefore we don’t really know the actual dates for the events surrounding the trials, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Families Count

Christmas dinnerWe crave family this time of year. Many drive long distances to be with them. Turkey dinners are carefully laid out for relatives. Even broken families wish for better times and may attempt reconciliation. Loneliness can be profound when one has little family left. Some people have so much family to visit, they become exhausted.

Scripture applauds good families. In Joseph and Mary’s family we see a glimpse of togetherness during a special time. Luke 2:41-52 tells us how their extended family traveled together to Jerusalem for Passover. This would have been a happy time for each of them. When the 12-year old Jesus went missing, they assumed he was somewhere nearby with relatives. We can safely let down our guard around family. Continue reading