Ever been shocked? Ever been amazed? Ever been astonished? Ever had your breath taken away?
Have you been surprised by God? Surprised by what He has called you to do? Surprised by how He shows up to help you through things? Surprised by how He makes what seems impossible possible? Surprised by how He gives you answers and wisdom in the midst of questions? Surprised by what He offers? Surprised by what He gives? Surprised by what He is able to do? Exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine!
1. Surprised by God’s help … Psalm 54:1-7
- We tend to get surprised when we are attacked … whether deserved or not
- We are even more surprised when we are attacked by strangers
- We are even more surprised by how God intervenes in such attacks to help us
- Even when it takes time to work through the challenges, let’s trust and believe in God because He can take what the enemy plans for evil and turn it around and use it for good.
- Praise Him even before He answers, trust Him, believing in Him, and lean not on your own understanding, put your trust in God!
2. Surprised by Jesus … John 2:1-25
Today’s devotional calls out some specific examples such as…
- Surprising abundance
Some might be surprised that not only were Jesus and his disciples invited to parties (like this wedding banquet), they actually accepted and went along. At that time, wedding feasts lasted about a week. They were times of great revelry and rejoicing – where people put on their best clothes, rejoiced, sang, danced, joked, laughed and had fun. Perhaps what is even more surprising is that rather than condemning those drinking wine, Jesus transformed over 120 gallons of bath water into the very best wine (v.10). Jesus does things abundantly. He wants to give you more and more life and joy.
Simply letting Jesus know what the problem was (‘They have no more wine’, v.3) and then following his instructions (‘do whatever he tells you’, v.5) led to this surprising miracle. Jesus not only answered the need, but he answered it beyond anything they could have expected or even imagined. The master of the banquet was surprised when he ‘tasted the water that had been turned into wine’ (v.9).
This can also be seen as a picture of our own lives; Jesus turns the water of life without him into the wine of life with him. I thought that following Jesus would mean a life that was ‘watered down’. In fact, it is the very opposite. Jesus constantly surprises us by how he enriches our lives. In particular, we see here how he enriches weddings and, indeed, marriages. He can turn the water of an ordinary marriage into the wine of an enriched one.
Jesus transforms drudgery and dreariness into fullness of joy.
Through this miracle Jesus ‘revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him’ (v.11). For many this must have been a very surprising revelation.
- Surprising passion
Jesus amazed everybody when he went into the temple courts and found people selling cattle, sheep and doves and others at tables exchanging money: ‘The loan sharks were also there in full strength’ (v.14, MSG).
He made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple area. He said, ‘Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall’ (v.16, MSG). His disciples remembered the words, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’ (v.17).
We are surrounded by commercialism and seductive images. Huge shopping centres are replacing churches. There is a danger of worshipping money and commerce.
There was a terrible temptation then, as there is now, for money-making to interfere with the worship of God. Of course, there is a practical side of worship, both in the temple and in churches today. However, when the object of our focus becomes money, we are in serious trouble. Jesus surprised people by how passionate he was about this.
- Surprising dwelling
Jesus redefines the temple. Jesus’ body is the true temple. Jesus says to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days’ (v.19). The true temple will be destroyed, but God will rebuild it again in three days, through the resurrection. They are surprised and cannot understand this – they ask Jesus how on earth he thinks he can rebuild this temple in a mere three days. But John adds, ‘the temple he had spoken of was his body’ (v.21).
The temple was important because it was the symbolic dwelling place of God. It was where God and humanity met. These surprising words of Jesus show us that he himself is the new temple. He is the dwelling place of God on earth.
Through Jesus, you are now called to be the home, the dwelling place of God. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
- Surprising wisdom
When people saw the miracles Jesus performed and what he was doing, many ‘believed in his name’ (John2:23). ‘But,’ John tells us, ‘Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need human testimony about them, for he knew what was in people’ (vv.24–25).
It is surprising to read that Jesus did not immediately trust these people – especially when we read that love ‘always trusts’ (1 Corinthians 13:7). Jesus is realistic about human nature. We tend to look for the perfect spouse, perfect parents, perfect children, perfect friends and the perfect church. But these don’t exist. All of us are flawed human beings.
Recognising this helps us to be more realistic and less disappointed and more forgiving in our relationships.
We need the wisdom of Jesus in our dealings and in our relationships. We need to balance openness and loving trust with the wisdom and understanding of the human heart.
3. Surprised by humaneness … Joshua 19:1-21:19
- The laws preserved the sanctity of human life
- Every human life has infinite value to God
- A person’s life taken is a very serious matter, even if it had been accidental
- We need to be aligned with God and be people passionate about justice, just laws, deterring and reducing crimes
- We need to aligned with God and be people who are interested in humaneness of the laws