Obedience to Jesus 2023

Second Chances

A number of years ago while doing a graveside service with a family I saw the tombstone of a young man. I don’t know what took his life, but it was obvious that there was a family who deeply loved this young man because his grave was not left unattended—flags, flowers, and hockey paraphernalia adorned the site.

As I stood there, my heart was deeply stirred and I thought, God, is a God of second chances. My mind returned to the person I was laying to rest…a believer…this was not his final resting place. Rather, when he took his last breath—he took his first breath in heaven.

Every day is an opportunity for second chances. How many times have you said…

“I wish I could just go back.”

“I wish I could have a do-over.”

“If I got a second chance, I would take it.”

A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”

John 11:1-3 MSG

Martha and Mary were saying, “Jesus, you have the power to change this situation!”

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” The disciples said, “Master if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while His disciples thought He was talking about taking a nap. Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”

John 11:11-15 MSG

Sometimes we don’t understand and Jesus speaks plainly; aren’t you glad He does?

“I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.”

John 11:25 MSG

But remember the earlier story of Mary & Martha…

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed Him and made Him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 MSG

There are days in life when you feel overwhelmed, underappreciated, and without help. Can you imagine how many times Martha was turning over in her mind the fact that her sister left her with all the work? If we’re being honest we’ve done that too. And she complained…

But that was not the end of Martha’s story!

When Jesus finally got there, He found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God He will give you.”

John 11:17-22

Something happened to Martha in these two books of Luke and John. From busyness to going out and away to meet Jesus when she heard He was coming. She dropped all that she was doing to seek him out!

She took her second chance, a chance to respond to the “essential” thing. She dropped her grave clothes of busyness and embraced this extremely important moment with Christ.

Our Father in Heaven is waiting for us to get to this point….to seek out that which is essential!

And here is the end of Mary’s story…

Six days before the Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.

John 12:1-3 MSG

We often see Mary as the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and that’s the end of it, but she too had a second chance. In her first encounter with Jesus, she listened—she withheld her expensive and sacrificial act of love.

Mary was saying, “I held back the first time, this is what I should have
done—I am giving it all NOW! Mary giving the aromatic oils was her taking off the grave clothes of regret & shame.

Martha, Lazarus, and Mary had now all been changed by Jesus—all been given a second chance, and all found themselves at His feet.

In 2015 a beautiful young lady, Ronnie Livingstone, was diagnosed with Brain Cancer, in April of the same year, she passed away from her battle.

One day as I went to the hospital to make my weekly visits, I found Ronnie laying out a lot of chocolate on her bed, she also had some in her hands, and she was humming and dancing. As I walked into the room, I said “Ronnie, what are doing?” She replied without a thought, “I’m having myself a little chocolate party, If I’m going to die then I’m going to live in this moment!” That day she had a little party and a whole lot of chocolate.

Powerful and YET Confusing! You see cancer was her second chance, it was the opportunity to remove grave clothes that she had been wearing for so many years(doubt, bad choices, poor lifestyle, rebellion, etc). It was cancer that brought her out of the grave and into His marvelous light. She truly traded in her grave clothes for the Love of her Heavenly Father.

Sometimes our days of wanting—wanting to be used by the Lord, wanting more, wanting to see change, wanting to hope, wanting to believe is prefaced by a death experience.

Just when you think you have lost it all, just when you think you can’t go any farther, just when you think Jesus has abandoned you and His Glory is nowhere to be found—He comes in only as God can with His Mighty power and infuses you with that Resurrection Power!

Could we, not all use a second chance?

Do you have moments where someone talks you out of (or, you talk yourself out of ) the Holy Spirit’s leading?

Have there been times when you knew you should have given it all?

Times when you were at the altar and you pulled back from God?

Times in your marriage when you knew you should have sacrificed more,
served more, loved more, and you withheld?

Times when the Lord asked for a greater commitment and you gave excuses?

I believe with all my heart that GOD IS A GOD OF SECOND CHANCES! Each day is full of His resurrection power, a gift of second chances, an opportunity where Christ extends His grace over these frail lives and gives us HOPE for something that exceeds what this world has to offer.

It’s time to trade in our grave clothes, lay our selfishness, our shame, our way of living, our agendas, our vision, and our plans down—trading them in for all that Christ has to offer.

Maybe you’re tired of carrying the weight of an empty life. You’re tired of living for yourself. Christ is present, and His Holy Spirit is waiting to help you experience what Martha, Lazarus, and Mary experienced—the realization that it’s never too late to trade in those grave clothes and experience life!

It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He could be our Master across the entire range of life and death…

Romans 14:8b-9 MSG

Obedience to Jesus…

Obedience to Jesus 2023


Then Jesus said, “I am light to the world, and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.” The Pharisees were immediately offended and said, “You’re just boasting about yourself! Since we only have your word on this, it makes your testimony invalid!” Jesus responded, “Just because I am the one making these claims doesn’t mean they are invalid. For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.

John 8:12-14a TPT

The action word contained within this passage is as the title suggests, walk.

When children are little and learning to walk, you grab their hands to assist their steps and hold them steady. You teach them to trust you—that you will not put them in harm’s way and that you want the best and safest way for them.

As they grow in confidence and take those steps for themselves you allow for the stumbles and falls, especially while their heads are so much heavier than the rest of their bodies. And they walk!

It becomes muscle memory, walking is just something they can do without thinking, and they begin to follow you a little less willingly—the desire to go their own way—quite strong.

They need to figure it out on their own, and we let them.

Walking the path of Obedience to Jesus is much the same, we learn to walk out our own life of faith, walk through the trials of life, and walk in obedience even as we harbour the desire to go our own way.

Look at what Jesus said: “For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.”

Perhaps, it’s the context we need for the beginning of the passage…

He was walking the path the Father had set before Him. (Hebrews 12:2) He walked, forged the way, and became the saviour we needed—knowing where the path would lead. But, also what would be won by walking!

“I am” God Himself with a life-giving light.

Now it’s up to you and me—walk.

And this is His promise, “they will never (double negative: never, no never) be driven (pushed) by the darkness.”[1]

You will walk and not be pushed, you won’t turn back in fear, and you will embrace Him as He provides the life-giving light you need when the path grows dark. You follow the God who knows where He is going.

Joy becomes the companion in your life of faith, is there really anything better?

[1] as translated from Aramaic; The Passion Translation

Obedience to Jesus 2023

Guides into God’s divine secrets

“Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s divine secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The master makes that judgment.”

1 Corinthians 4:1-4 MSG

Cargo shorts, a bottle of water, sunglasses, a loud mic, and jokes that are old and tired—a tour guide—at least, as depicted by the movies.

But it got us thinking and wondering about what makes a good guide?

As His followers, we are guides into God’s divine secrets, not security guards, stewards, estate managers, or trustees. We are the guides pointing the way to Jesus, equipped with the Holy Spirit as we follow His lead.

And we are working towards being better all-the-time!

So take a look at the qualities—and follow along as we take A Biblical Tour of the 11 ways you can be a guide into God’s divine secrets

  1. Know your tour route—we know the journey, the twists and turns, and the beauty of finding Jesus when our own efforts fail—because we’ve been there ourselves. (1 Timothy 3:16)
  2. Clear communication—having the right response makes a huge difference when it comes to reaching the lost. (Colossians 4:5-6)
  3. Understand where people are coming from—we may not have the same experiences as everyone who crosses our path. (Proverbs 20:5)
  4. Magnetic personality—be someone people want to be around, attractive by the way you live your life. Full of the Spirit! (Titus 2:7-8)
  5. Ability to improvise and adapt—1 Corinthians 9:19-23—enough said! 😉
  6. Build rapport—rapport is built in the context of community. (Romans 12:9-16)
  7. Engaging storyteller—the Bible is filled with parables, stories, and examples of the goodness of God! Be good at telling your story, allowing God to change your mess into a message. (Psalms 66:16)
  8. Flexibility—as a ministry leader you know this to your core, plans change—often! But His purpose prevails! (Proverbs 19:21)
  9. Timeliness—in light of the message of the Gospel, today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
  10. Willingness to teach others—”Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
  11. Professionalism—Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)

This Biblical Tour is a simple reminder that we are never done learning and growing. It helps to understand that we are indeed guides! Our circles of influence and communities need us.

If you are looking to grow your leadership, ACOP is offering Epic 2.0, March 13-16, 2023. Let’s become the guides our world needs!

We follow His lead with humility, reliability, and accuracy—we guide, not locking away the truth for ourselves. Continue our Biblical Tour by leaving your favorite scripture of leadership in the comments below. 👇