LOOKING FOR THE MESSIAH

Looking for the Messiah, Part 2

by Max Lucado

Some missed him.

Some miss him still.

We expect God to speak through peace, but sometimes he speaks through pain.

We think God talks through the church, but he also talks through the lost.

We look for the answer among the Protestants, but he’s been known to speak through the Catholics.

We listen for him among the Catholics but find him among the Quakers.

We think we hear him in the sunrise, but he is also heard in the darkness.

We listen for him in triumph, but he speaks even more distinctly through tragedy.

We must let God define himself.

When we do, when we let God define himself, a whole new world opens before us. How, you ask? Let me explain with a story.

Once there was a man whose life was one of misery. The days were cloudy, and the nights were long. Henry didn’t want to be unhappy, but he was. With the passing of the years, his life had changed. His children were grown. The neighborhood was different. The city seemed harsher.

He was unhappy. He decided to ask his minister what was wrong.

“Am I unhappy for some sin I have committed?”

“Yes,” the wise pastor replied. “You have sinned.”

“And what might that sin be?”

“Ignorance,” came the reply. “The sin of ignorance. One of your neighbors is the Messiah in disguise, and you have not seen him.”

The old man left the office stunned. “The Messiah is one of my neighbors?” He began to think who it might be.

Tom the butcher? No, he’s too lazy. Mary, my cousin down the street? No, too much pride. Aaron the paperboy? No, too indulgent. The man was confounded. Every person he knew had defects. But one was the Messiah. He began to look for Him.

He began to notice things he hadn’t seen. The grocer often carried sacks to the cars of older ladies. Maybe he is the Messiah. The officer at the corner always had a smile for the kids. Could it be? And the young couple who’d moved next door. How kind they are to their cat. Maybe one of them …

With time he saw things in people he’d never seen. And with time his outlook began to change. The bounce returned to his step. His eyes took on a friendly sparkle. When others spoke he listened. After all, he might be listening to the Messiah. When anyone asked for help, he responded; after all this might be the Messiah needing assistance.

The change of attitude was so significant that someone asked him why he was so happy. “I don’t know,” he answered. “All I know is that things changed when I started looking for God.”

Now, that’s curious. The old man saw Jesus because he didn’t know what he looked like. The people in Jesus’ day missed him because they thought they did.

How are things looking in your neighborhood?

From A Gentle Thunder

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1987) Max Lucado

A STUDY OF PSALM 91 – 5

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.””

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What promises! Why do we worry? Why do we fret? God has promised to rescue, protect,answer, be with, honor and reward us! Glory! Alleluia!

A STUDY OF PSALM 91 – 4

“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:9-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The key point here is ‘If you make’, the decision to ha e God as our protector, Defence, strength, is ours to make. We have to choose Him above all, we have to continue to choose Him.

When we choose God, not only does God protect us, but he gives us the power to destroy the forces that come against us. Tread on the lion and the cobra. Trample on the great lion and the serpent. Tread and trample are action words—now we are taking the fight to our enemies. (Remember, our enemies are spiritual forces, not the people we see who may be persecuting us.) Because God is with us and his angels are protecting us, even the “gates of hell” will not prevail against us. The size of our enemy doesn’t matter, because our victory comes through the power and authority of  the Most High God.

We win because He is, not because we are!

A STUDY OF PSALM 91 – 3

“Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:5-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God will protect us and deliver us from every attack.  His deliverance may mean that we still face trials, but Jesus said: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matt. 10:28). When God protects us—his children—we know that we are safe.  Even if we suffer persecution and physical death, nothing can snatch us out of God’s powerful and loving hands.

When enemies directly attack us we can remain at peace, knowing that God himself is our shield and our fortress. Remember that we don’t have to act—you will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” God will act on your behalf.  God will defend his children. “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today. (Exodus 14:13). We just need to declare His victory! His supremacy!

Open your eyes and see God at work! He has never and will never fail! Victory is assured

STUDY OF PSALM 91 – 2

“For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The first thing that comes to mind is that God protects! He knows where the traps are, He knows what brings about diseases and He is willing and able to protect His own from them all without fail. God’s protection is pictured like a mother bird sheltering its baby. The baby is covered by her wing, feels her feathers, hears her heartbeat. Who can be afraid? When we have placed ourselves under God’s protection we have the same feeling of peace as this baby bird. He shelters us and we feel his presence. What can harm us? We must all place ourselves and our situation into God’s hands and trust in His ability to keep us safe. He will replace our fears with his perfect love. And then the peace of God, which surpasses our human understanding, will keep your heart and your mind through faith in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).

RUN TO GOD TODAY!

THE CHOICE

by Max Lucado

He placed one scoop of clay upon another until a form lay lifeless on the ground.

All of the Garden’s inhabitants paused to witness the event. Hawks hovered. Giraffes stretched. Trees bowed. Butterflies paused on petals and watched.

“You will love me, nature,” God said. “I made you that way. You will obey me, universe. For you were designed to do so. You will reflect my glory, skies, for that is how you were created. But this one will be like me. This one will be able to choose.”

All were silent as the Creator reached into himself and removed something yet unseen. A seed. “It’s called ‘choice.’ The seed of choice.”

Creation stood in silence and gazed upon the lifeless form.

An angel spoke, “But what if he … ”

“What if he chooses not to love?” the Creator finished. “Come, I will show you.”

Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow.

“There, see the fruit of the seed of choice, both the sweet and the bitter.”

The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Chosen tenderness. Never had he seen anything like these. He felt the love of the Adams. He heard the joy of Eve and her daughters. He saw the food and the burdens shared. He absorbed the kindness and marveled at the warmth.

Heaven has never seen such beauty, my Lord. Truly, this is your greatest creation.”

“Ah, but you’ve only seen the sweet. Now witness the bitter.”

A stench enveloped the pair. The angel turned in horror and proclaimed, “What is it?”

The Creator spoke only one word: “Selfishness.”

The angel stood speechless as they passed through centuries of repugnance. Never had he seen such filth. Rotten hearts. Ruptured promises. Forgotten loyalties. Children of the creation wandering blindly in lonely labyrinths.

“This is the result of choice?” the angel asked.

“Yes.”

“They will forget you?”

“Yes.”

“They will reject you?”

“Yes.”

“They will never come back?”

“Some will. Most won’t.”

“What will it take to make them listen?”

The Creator walked on in time, further and further into the future, until he stood by a tree. A tree that would be fashioned into a cradle. Even then he could smell the hay that would surround him.

With another step into the future, he paused before another tree. It stood alone, a stubborn ruler of a bald hill. The trunk was thick, and the wood was strong. Soon it would be cut. Soon it would be trimmed. Soon it would be mounted on the stony brow of another hill. And soon he would be hung on it.

He felt the wood rub against a back he did not yet wear.

“Will you go down there?” the angel asked.

“I will.”

“Is there no other way?”

“There is not.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to not plant the seed? Wouldn’t it be easier to not give the choice?”

“It would,” the Creator spoke slowly. “But to remove the choice is to remove the love.”

He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward. They moaned with the wind.

Men clad in soldiers’ garb sat on the ground near the trio. They played games in the dirt and laughed.

Men clad in religion stood off to one side. They smiled. Arrogant, cocky. They had protected God, they thought, by killing this false one.

Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill. Speechless. Faces tear streaked. Eyes downward. One put her arm around another and tried to lead her away. She wouldn’t leave. “I will stay,” she said softly. “I will stay.”

All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command.

“It must be done … ,” he said, and withdrew.

But as he stepped back in time, he heard the cry that he would someday scream: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) He wrenched at tomorrow’s agony.

The angel spoke again. “It would be less painful … ”

The Creator interrupted softly. “But it wouldn’t be love.”

They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker looked earnestly at the clay creation. A monsoon of love swelled up within him. He had died for the creation before he had made him. God’s form bent over the sculptured face and breathed. Dust stirred on the lips of the new one. The chest rose, cracking the red mud. The cheeks fleshened. A finger moved. And an eye opened.

But more incredible than the moving of the flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could see the unseen gasped.

Perhaps it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the star saw that moment is what has made it blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it:

“It looks like … it appears so much like … it is him!”

The angel wasn’t speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside—at the soul.

“It’s eternal!” gasped another.

Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of his self. The God of might had created earth’s mightiest. The Creator had created, not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.

Now it’s our choice.

From In the Eye of the Storm

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado

A STUDY OF PSALM 91

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The first thing that comes to mind is that we live in the shelter of the Most high, that is our dwelling place, we don’t visit there and later move on but we dwell and live there. There is a sense of permanence to the living arrangement. The shelter of God is our permanent home address!

Secondly is to find rest in His shadow, to stand in someone’s shadow you have to be close to them. So close that their shadow can fall on you and shield you from the vagaries of the weather, When you are that close to God you are protected! When you are that close to God, you know that you can trust Him. He is going no where, He is ever present, always there, always available, steadfast, sure.

Thirdly is that He is our refuge and place of safety. A refuge is defined as the state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty, a place or situation providing safety or shelter. The starting point for protection is being close to God. If you need protection today, I encourage you—don’t look out at your enemies. Don’t look around at your circumstances. Rather, get closer to God. Trust him to be your shelter and your refuge.

GOD NEVER FAILS!