Monday, May 4

Devotional: Change the Picture

Are you old enough to remember the view-finder? This handheld, plastic gadget was designed to let you see pictures from your favorite movie or amusement park. I used to have view finder “wheels” of Sea World. Through the view-finder you could be looking at a Sea World garden (boring!). However, one flick of the handle …… Shamoo! Ah, that is much better!

Flick the handle and you change the picture! Change the picture and you change your experience.

Read: John 14:1-14
1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."
5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
8Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
9Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

New International Version

Jesus’ team was in a fight for their lives. Their Commander and Chief was about to die for crimes he did not commit. Jesus was about to be the ultimate sacrifice in the war against sin.

As we look at John 14 we enter the final week of Jesus’ life. There are many things on his mind. The crowds are restless. Jesus will be betrayed. Jesus knows the disciples will deny him and scatter. As the sun sets on Jesus’ life, the cross casts a horrible shadow ahead him. His disciples sense things are bad. They are troubled (v.1).

Jesus is working to get his guys ready. Everything they were working toward stands in the balance. Jesus is going to leave the ministry of the Kingdom in their fearful hands and he needs them to trust him in this dark hour (v.2).

How do you offer help to fearful folks? How do you strengthen weak knees? How do you get people to see beyond their fear?

Jesus motivates this fearful group of future leaders in several ways:
1. He called them to trust Him (v.1). Like a the sea during a storm, the disciples’ hearts were troubled …. stirred up. They were scared. When we allow ourselves to be troubled we are not looking at things correctly. We are allowing fear to control our outlook. We are missing that our lives are in the hands of a good and gracious God. We are forgetting that nothing happens in our lives that does not first pass through the hands of our God. We are looking at our situation not at our God. So, it is no surprise that Jesus calls his team to look to the Father. “Trust God, trust also in me.”

2. He changed their focus (v.2). These disciples were only looking at their circumstances. They were fixated on their sense of doom. Focus on fear and you get locked up. Jesus called them to focus on things above. Interestingly, he does not just call them to focus on heaven or angels or God’s throne or glory … he calls them to focus on their place in heaven. He said, “focus on the place prepared for you!” This is not random. This is not about everyone else. This is not about some nebulous, spiritual feeling. This is about a place. Four walls. Substance. Personal. Theirs. He calls them to focus on more than their circumstances.

3. He created pictures for them (v. 2, 3). They needed something other than death and uncertainty to focus on. They needed pictures. Jesus encouraged them to picture this place that He was preparing for them BUT also that He, himself, was coming back to get them. The disciples would have understood the imagery. Jesus was the groom. They were the bride. He was going to prepare a place for them and going to return to get them when it was ready. He set a new picture for them to focus on.

How do you handle stress? What are you troubled about? Worried about your job, money, health, the economy, swine flu, your marriage, your kids, the latest news flash, a threatening storm, a presentation you have to give, a neighbor, sharing Christ with someone. The list of things is endless. What troubles you?

More importantly, what are you focused on? What are you looking at? You show me what you are focused on and I will know what is controlling you. If possible, change your view. Change your perspective. Flick the handle and change the view. Ask God to change the picture. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Keep focused on the glory to be given you when Christ is revealed. You have a place with Jesus. It is yours! Personal. Substantial. Your room is almost ready.

Jesus understood the human heart. He knows we are prone to fearful wandering. He calls us to change the picture in our view finder! It takes a future hope to be a present help. If you know that God has prepared a place for you and if you know that Jesus is coming to get you that should help you through what concernes you today.

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.