Rainbow

Imagine a rainbow set against the darkness of the clouds.  As beautiful as it is, it speaks as a sign of glory, grace and hope and it speaks of God’s guarantee to all the earth that there will never come another flood ever again.  The very elements that created the flood were now no longer in existence and instead this newly created ‘natural’ result was the very promise of God’s presence in our future storms and moments of darkness – a sign of God’s grace and glory.

I think heaven will be filled with colour.  Kind of wonder how many have the impression that heaven will be only white or mysterious opaque brilliancy.  While that could be true, I believe colour will also be part of heaven and the rainbow is just one example God has provided for us on earth as a taste of the beauty we look forward to. As a symbol of God’s promise to us on earth, the rainbow beams with the hope of heaven too.  The ultimate promise God makes is that for every believer, their home is in heaven.

That is the message I received as a ten-year old boy playing with my neighbour and friend after a storm.  As we were busy playing with mud, my neighbour’s dad came over and asked me if I knew what the rainbow meant and for every subsequent question my answer was always the same – no.  He stormed over to my parents, and the following Sunday was my first Sunday in Sunday School – the beginning of my spiritual journey – taken by our neighbours who introduced me to God via the rainbow.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:12-17

As followers of Jesus Christ

These are the questions that come to mind –

  • what does it look like to love impartially?
  • what does it look like to help others in need when there is no hope of them ever returning the favour?
  • what does it look like to love in moments when the cost of that love will never be repaid?

It is my hope that as followers of Jesus Christ we live higher – we live on a whole different plane than the rest of the world.  If not, what would set us apart or make us different?  We were called to come out and be separate and how is that possible if we do the same things everyone else is doing?  Therefore the challenge is given – if we love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us – well then, we are standing out.  Most might think us mad, but at the end of the day they will recognize something they have always been searching for – love. Let’s not be just another social club – let’s give the love of Christ that we have received to those who have never heard and have yet to receive.

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:27-38

10 Signs of a Jesus Follower

1 Peter 1:3

He would heal

When Jesus was being challenged in the temple regarding healing on the Sabbath, I am sure attendance had risen to an all time high.  Everyone knew if Jesus was coming and teaching that He would heal.  It is possible that hundreds or even thousands had been healed.  No one came to see if Jesus could heal – their hope was He would.  Unfortunately the Pharisees came so that in catching Jesus healing on the Sabbath, they could accuse, indict and prosecute Him.  They had come to a point where they needed to arrest and stop the most dangerous man alive – Jesus.  He was exposing their hypocrisy and causing people to follow Him.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”  Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.  But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”  He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. – Luke 6:-11

Faithful and Loving God, you have once again nourished with your Word. As people saved by our hope in you, we give thanks for the love you have poured into us. May this love flow freely from us to others as we carry your certain and saving hope into the world. Amen.

Free from hopelessness

Jesus met a man named Levi who happened to be a tax collector. The encounter was an amazing illustration of love from Jesus, not only meant for Levi but for all sinners and a clear model of how we followers of Christ are to live.  The story starts in a public setting and in front of this large crowd of people surrounding Levi who is doing business, Jesus calls him out to follow Him – Levi, a man from a particularly hated class of people – to follow Him.  One had to wonder what Jesus was thinking at the time because tax collectors were the scorn of the religious leaders and accordingly, Levi had no hope – he was excommunicated from all religious fellowship.

It was a simple enough invitation – and the invitation to come back into fellowship with God that set Levi free.  It set the scene for one big dinner party where Levi wanted all his friends and fellow sinners to meet the One who set him free from hopelessness.  The guest of honour was Jesus Himself and he never hesitated.  That was His pattern – if the religious leaders avoided, He and His disciples were pleased to attend.  How else was the Good News of the Kingdom of God to be shared with those who needed that good news?

You imagine our own scene today if were to gather at such a party.  Most of our trouble would come from those who are a bit overly devoted to legalism and the appearance of righteousness.  Unfortunately, many would not accept an invitation to such a dinner party.

Choice is rather straight forward – keep to those who are just like us or meet the lost and broken where they live, sharing the hope of the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus showed us how to live that night at Levi’s dinner party.  We are to share the good news with those who need it, in humility and gratitude that we have been set free.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. – 1 Corinthians 15:10

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:27-32

7 BIBLE VERSES FOR WHEN LIFE SEEMS HOPELESS

Scriptures Against Hopelessness

Psalm 146: The Source of Hope

Five Pursuits to Lead You Out of Chronic Hopelessness