|» ||Jesus Over Everything|
My friend’s son decided to wear a sports jersey over his school clothing one day. He wanted to show support for his favorite team that would be playing an important game later that night. Before leaving home, he put something on over his sports jersey—it was a chain with a pendant that read, “Jesus.” His simple action illustrated a deeper truth: Jesus deserves first place over everything in our lives.
Jesus is above and over all. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Jesus is supreme over all creation (vv. 15-16). He is “the head of the body, the church” (v. 18). Because of this, He should have first place in all things.
When we give Jesus the highest place of honor in each area of our lives, this truth becomes visible to those around us. At work, are we laboring first for God or only to please our employer? (3:23). How do God’s standards show up in the way we treat others? (vv. 12-14). Do we put Him first as we live our lives and pursue our favorite pastimes?
When Jesus is our greatest influence in all of life, He will have His rightful place in our hearts.
|» ||Secret Menu|
Meat Mountain is a super-sandwich layered with six kinds of meat. Stacked with chicken tenders, three strips of bacon, two cheeses, and much more, it looks like it should be a restaurant’s featured item.
But Meat Mountain isn’t on any restaurant’s published menu. The sandwich represents a trend in off-menu items known only by social media or word of mouth. It seems that competition is driving fast-food restaurants to offer a secret menu to in-the-know customers.
When Jesus told His disciples that He had “food” they knew nothing about, it must have seemed like a secret menu to them (John 4:32). He sensed their confusion and explained that His food was to do the will of His Father and to finish the work given to Him (v. 34).
Jesus had just spoken to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well about living water she had never heard of. As they talked, he revealed a supernatural understanding of her unquenched thirst for life. When he disclosed who He was, she left her water pot behind and ran to ask her neighbors, “Could this be the Messiah?” (v. 29).
What was once a secret can now be offered to everyone. Jesus invites all of us to trust His ability to satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts. As we do, we discover how to live not just by our physical appetites but by the soul-satisfying Spirit of our God.
|» ||Can’t Take It Back|
I couldn't take my actions back. A woman had parked her car and blocked my way of getting to the gas pump. She hopped out to drop off some recycling items, and I didn't feel like waiting, so I honked my horn at her. Irritated, I put my car in reverse and drove around another way. I immediately felt bad about being impatient and unwilling to wait 30 seconds (at the most) for her to move. I apologized to God. Yes, she should have parked in the designated area, but I could have spread kindness and patience instead of harshness. Unfortunately it was too late to apologize to her—she was gone.
Many of the Proverbs challenge us to think about how to respond when people get in the way of our plans. There’s the one that says, “Fools show their annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). And “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (20:3). Then there’s this one that goes straight to the heart: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (29:11).
Growing in patience and kindness seems pretty difficult sometimes. But the apostle Paul says it is the work of God, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). As we cooperate with Him and depend on Him, He produces that fruit in us. Please change us, Lord.
|» ||The Factory of Sadness|
As a lifelong Cleveland Browns football fan, I grew up knowing my share of disappointment. Despite being one of only four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl championship game, the Browns have a loyal fan base that sticks with the team year in and year out. But because the fans usually end up disappointed, many of them now refer to the home stadium as the “Factory of Sadness.”
The broken world we live in can be a “factory of sadness” too. There seems to be an endless supply of heartache and disappointment, whether from our own choices or things beyond our control.
Yet the follower of Christ has hope—not only in the life to come but for this very day. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Notice that without minimizing the struggles or sadness we may experience, Christ counters them with His promises of peace, joy, and ultimate victory.
Great peace is available in Christ, and it’s more than enough to help us navigate whatever life throws at us.
|» ||What Will Be|
You and I have something in common. We live in a mixed-up, tarnished world and we have never known anything different. Adam and Eve, however, could remember what life was like before the curse. They could recall the world as God intended it to be—free of death, hardship, and pain (Gen. 3:16-19). In pre-fall Eden, hunger, unemployment, and illness did not exist. No one questioned God’s creative power or His plan for human relationships.
The world we have inherited resembles God’s perfect garden only slightly. To quote C. S. Lewis, “This is a good world gone wrong, but [it] still retains the memory of what ought to have been.” Fortunately, the cloudy memory of what the earth should have been is also a prophetic glimpse into eternity. There, just as Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, believers will see His face and serve Him directly. There will be nothing between God and us. “No longer will there be any curse” (Rev. 22:3). There will be no sin, no fear, and no shame.
The past and its consequences may cast a shadow on today, but a believer’s destiny carries the promise of something better—life in a place as perfect as Eden.