Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: invitation

Deny

Two people have been on my mind today, both of whom participated in the first Easter.

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. I like Peter. He frequently opened his mouth before engaging his brain and generally jumped in with both feet. Peter blurted out deep spiritual truths that could only have been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, at other times he got it badly wrong.

Peter had an inkling that Jesus was about to walk into a whole load of trouble, and was determined to stick by Him.

Yet when the key moment came, Peter bottled it. He denied he knew Jesus. Peter’s heart must have broken when he realised he’d let his Lord down. I can identify a little bit with him, can’t you?

The other person who has been on my mind is Mary of Bethany. She too was a close friend of Jesus. She, with her sister and brother, showed Jesus warm hospitality whenever He came to their village, and He spent time in their home in the week leading up to His arrest and execution.

Mary used her two ears more than her mouth. She listened to Jesus. She pondered what He was really saying and what was the meaning behind His words.

Jesus had been open with all His close friends about His forthcoming crucifixion, yet only Mary seemed to grasp what He was saying.

A few days before His arrest, while Jesus was relaxing with friends over a meal, Mary anointed Him with expensive perfume (the value was around a year’s wages). She recognised who He was, and knew He was about to die. She may not have understood everything He’d said, but she wanted to pour out her extravagant love for Him.

Jesus loves a loyal, loving heart. He insisted that Mary’s beautiful act of worship be remembered wherever the gospel is taught – even more than 2,000 years later in a blog post.

The wonderful thing is that Jesus dealt with both Peter’s and Mary’s sin on the cross. Peter may have denied Him when He most needed a friend, but Jesus still didn’t turn His back on Peter.

I’m glad that Jesus knows we are prone to stumble along behind Him at times, often getting it wrong, occasionally getting something right. I’m so very thankful that my dearest friend Jesus died so that I could call Him friend, and so that He could call me friend. He is the most magnificent person who has ever lived, and I’m thrilled I can call Him mine.

If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus, He is inviting you into a relationship with Him. Please leave a comment below or contact me via Twitter if you’d like to know how you can do that.

 

 

World

God loved the world so much that He gave His only beloved Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus Himself gave that invitation. If you are human and you live in the world, then the invitation is for you.

Witness

‘As God is my witness….’

People sometimes say that to assert their innocence or to show they really mean what they are about to say.

God is their witness. He is privy to everything we do and think. He knows the secrets in our hearts.

God knows when you’re hurting, when things aren’t fair, when you are so stressed with balancing stuff that you don’t have any head space left. Maybe you’ve witnessed something you wish you hadn’t.

If you are weary and feeling heavy with all the burdens you’re carrying, Jesus says: ‘Come.’

‘Come to Me, and I will give you rest.’

God isn’t a cold-hearted witness. He heals and restores, He mends broken hearts, He bandages wounds. He gives hope and peace and joy.

God is nice, and He likes you.

Live

What do you live for? What’s your motivation?

It might be family or your career or cats.

Jesus came to raise our expectations. He invites us to abundant life.

When I was ill with ME/chronic fatigue and some days all I could do was breathe, I knew abundant life inside. Jesus gave me an impossible joy that had nothing to do with circumstances and didn’t take energy. He gave it. While I would never want to go back to being ill, I wouldn’t have missed knowing the nearness of God for anything.

Abundant life is all about knowing Jesus. He invites us to follow Him and to put Him first in our lives. I’ve found asking myself this question helpful: ‘If Jesus were living my life right now, what would He do?’

Jesus said that if we seek first His Kingdom, the Father will provide everything we need. We don’t need to worry about what will happen because we have a Daddy in heaven who has endless resources, is richer than we can begin to imagine, and has promised to take care of all of our needs. In the last couple of years, I’ve been daring to believe this is true. It is. It may not always look like what I expect, but He does provide.

Seek first His Kingdom. What does that look like?

When Jesus sent out His followers on a preaching trip, He urged them: ‘Proclaim as you go saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received with paying, give without pay.’

His commission hasn’t changed. God still wants us doing these things. How else can people see Him? In some parts of the world, seeing the dead raised is normal. I can testify to God’s healing power in my own life. I’ve also had demons cast out of me.

If God is who He says He is, why wouldn’t He do these things?

He loves us, He reveals Himself to us, He is the one who pursues us. It’s not the other way around. We know love because He shows us what it looks like. We live because He is the source of life.

Hand2,000 years ago, Jesus’ friend Peter saw Jesus walking on water and said to Him, ‘Lord if that’s really You, call me to join You.’

With a smile (I’m sure), Jesus said, ‘Peter, come.’

Peter scrambled out of the boat and walked on water. Just like Jesus.

But then he saw the waves and freaked out. What am I doing?! Aaaaggghhh! Peter began to sink and yelled for help. Immediately Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up, back onto the top of the water.

Jesus offers us abundant life and He invites us to get out of the boat and go on Kingdom adventures with Him. Are you up for it?

 

 

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