He Seeks Us 5

Revelation 3:20

With jobs and church and family our lives can be fairly full. The days seem to fill with scheduled activities that don’t always leave room for the unexpected. Still, it is usually very nice and a fun little change in the routine to have an unexpected visitor stop by the house.

Unfortunately, there are times when we are far too busy to be able to spare the time required to visit with someone who drops by unannounced. When that happens we have to be blunt and explain that we just don’t have the time. We aren’t always ready to open the door for someone who comes to us.

We know that Jesus seeks us. He calls us into a relationship with him. But there is a unique feature to his approach. What does Jesus say about himself? What must we do for him?

This passage is very familiar to most people. It is so well known, in fact, that many churches have the familiar depiction of Jesus standing and knocking at a garden door, whether as a painting or stained glass. It is a comforting image, but there is an interesting aspect to it. If you look closely at these pictures you will notice that the door has no doorknob or handle by which it can be opened.

Jesus seeks us, but in his move toward us he goes only as far as the door of our hearts. He knocks on our lives and tries to get our attention. If he is to enter into a relationship with us then we must be the ones who open the door for him. Jesus is not an intruder. He is not an irresistible force that overwhelms us and controls us. Jesus simply offers himself to us. He knocks. We must open the door.

If we are willing to acknowledge Jesus we can open our hearts and our lives to his presence. We can invite Jesus to enter. He wants to enter. He desires that encounter with us. He wants to heal us and comfort us and feed us. But the relationship depends on us.

As we are assured that Jesus seeks us, we must consider what we will do to receive him.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you open the door for Jesus?

This is the last of our 10/2 Grow Daily Devotions for the spring of 2010. We pray that these have been helpful in building your faith. We plan to return on August 30, and we encourage you to invite others to sign up for the daily devotion this fall. May God bless you this summer. - Roger and Peggy Emerson

He Seeks Us 4

John 15:16

When I work with couples planning a wedding I explain some of the requirements of the wedding service. There needs to be a part in the service where those getting married declare that they have come of their own free will (you may know it as the father giving away the bride). Weddings are not legal if both persons are not willing to take part in it.

This can also be a very meaningful time in the ceremony, however. By making any type of declaration of this sort you are stating that you have chosen the one you are marrying. This is the person you have selected to receive your love.

As Jesus was preparing for the crucifixion, especially preparing the disciples for what was about to happen, he explained some things to them. Who chose whom? What does Jesus want the disciples to do?

I can imagine that hearing this statement could really build the esteem of the disciples. Jesus had selected them. They were chosen by the Lord to be in a relationship with him.

And what he expected of them was that they were to bear fruit – that is, they were to do the good works of God’s kingdom. They were to express the love and compassion of God to a world in need, and Jesus would be with them as they did this work.

Now we must be aware that we are like the disciples. We have been chosen by Jesus. He is the one who has selected us. Jesus has desired that we be in a relationship with him.

And he calls us to do the work of the kingdom. But we will not be alone. Jesus will be present with us in all that we do if we will open ourselves up and welcome the Lord who seeks us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be reminded that Jesus has chosen you for this relationship?

He Seeks Us 3

Matthew 15:31-32

Years ago many of the churches in Hamilton, Ohio, organized a system to help the homeless in that town. Churches took turns providing homeless families and individuals with shelter and a meal. That ministry quickly grew into something more comprehensive. Instead of simply a bed and a meal the churches soon offered a bed, activities to occupy their time, and not just one meal, but three meals. Their compassion could not stop at the bare essentials.

In a familiar story Jesus is preaching when he is surrounded by a massive crowd of thousands of people. What has already happened among the people? What does Jesus want to do for them?

Not only has Jesus provided these thousands of listeners with powerful teaching and instruction, he has clearly performed miracles among them. He has given voice to the mute and restored the lame and crippled. His mercy and compassion are so great that the crowd is praising God for all of His love.

But Jesus is not done yet. He has taught them and healed them, and now he wants to feed them. His compassion knows no bounds.

And the same is true of us. Jesus has given himself completely for our salvation. He suffered and died on a cross so that we might be freed from the chains of our own sins.

He also continues to be a presence in our lives, a source of comfort and guidance and wisdom. He is the rock of hope that we can rely on in difficult times. But he doesn’t stop there.

Jesus constantly seeks us out with his love. No matter what we do in our lives, no matter what mistakes we make, no matter how we might disregard and ignore God, still Jesus seeks us so that we might have a relationship of love with him.

Even if Jesus has already taught you and healed you, he still wants to feed you with his compassion and mercy. Jesus still seeks you to provide you with life-giving sustenance in your walk of faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to receive the food Jesus will give you?

He Seeks Us 2

Mark 1:16-18

Comedian Bill Cosby has observed in his routine that children need to be bombarded with requests from their parents so that the message will eventually sink in. He claims that if you want your child to come to you, you must go beyond saying “come here” and instead say “come here come here come here come here come here come here come here.”

There seems to be some truth to this, and it also applies to most adults. There are few people who will respond immediately to any request you might have. But Jesus seemed to have the ability to get others to respond to him.

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ call to his disciples. Who did Jesus see? What did he request? What did he promise? What was their response?

Whether or not Jesus addressed total strangers or people he had known for some time we cannot be certain. Were Simon and Andrew simply two men at the seashore or were they two people he had met with on previous occasions? And was their response as immediate as what is presented, or has this been edited for impact?

We can easily imagine any of these scenarios. Jesus has the ability to turn a person’s heart with a single word, and his presence is enough to make people change their lives completely.

What is important here is that Jesus was the one who sought out his disciples. He did not wait for them to come to him. He went out and gathered them, summoning them from their mundane lives and giving them the promise of an incredible ministry fishing for men.

As we consider the many ways in which we can encounter Jesus and enter into a relationship with our God, we must know that we are being sought by God. Jesus is not only waiting for us to come to him, but he is also seeking us with his love. He calls us into a relationship with him that he might change our lives and make all things new for us.

We can seek Jesus. We can realize we need him. And we can be attentive to his call in our hearts, a call into a bright and energizing relationship with the Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be ready to hear the Master’s call in your life?

He Seeks Us 1

John 6:35

I remember very clearly the day I went with a friend, Ed, to his girlfriend’s house. Her grandmother happened to be visiting from Kentucky that weekend and she was busy in the kitchen cooking green beans, ham, and cornbread when we got there. When the food was ready Ed and I were invited to sit down and join them all for dinner. We did, and the food was so good I had three helpings.

While I was eating, and having trouble maintaining some decorum because of the delicious food, I was aware of what poor manners I was displaying by eating so much. But Ed told me that it probably pleased his girlfriend’s grandmother to know her food was appreciated. Others have pointed out the same thing. I need not worry about my manners at that meal. I was welcome at that table.

The same is true of our Savior. We are welcome at the Lord’s Table, even if we do not deserve to be there. In a discussion about food Jesus took an opportunity to make a point about himself. What does he say of himself? What does he offer to those who are hungry and thirsty?

In this very poignant moment, Jesus makes a very clear comparison about himself. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the substance that sustains and feeds us. He is as basic to our existence as the staple of bread that keeps us alive.

And, being that bread of life, Jesus invites us to take part in him. We are encouraged to encounter Christ in a very personal way. We are invited to make Christ part of who we are.

But there is more involved than that. Not only are we invited into this encounter with Jesus, we are sought out by Jesus. He desires to have that encounter with us. He desires that we encounter him and make him a basic part of how we live and act.

Jesus brought the disciples together to share the bread and the wine, the body and blood of Christ. We too are invited and sought after to come to the Lord’s Table and make the sacrifice of Jesus that transforming moment in our own lives.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you welcome Christ’s invitation?