Our Messiah

Today’s Reading: John 5

Good morning friends. I’m writing to you this week from my kitchen table as I watch snow flakes fall and the wind blow. The change of season is such a powerful reminder for me of God’s presence in our world. I’m appreciative of the quiet beauty as I study! Today’s scripture from John 5 has two major themes. First, we have the healing of a lame man, which is further evidence that John provides to show that Jesus is the true Messiah. The second major theme is Jesus’ claim to be the son of God. We begin with Jesus in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. There he finds a man lying on the ground who has been disabled for 38 years. When Jesus sees him lying there he says,

“Do you want to get well?”

“Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to get me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me!” John, 5:6-7

After 38 long years, the man’s problem had become a way of life for him. He was left with no hope of being healed as no one had ever offered to help him. How often do we decide that our situation is permanent? Do we give up hope when faced with hardship or continued defeat? No matter how trapped we may feel, God can minister to our specific need. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well, we expect him to respond with a resounding “Yes!” but he doesn’t. Instead he complains to Jesus that no one has helped him. When I read that, I was quick to judge the man. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I certainly have this kind of pessimism in my nature. It is often difficult to accept help even when you know that you need it. Are there moments in my day that Jesus is present and offering help? Are there times that I feel hopeless and helpless and Jesus is standing there ready to intervene? It’s tempting to think that God’s healing depends upon the quality of our faith. But the man whom Jesus heals showed no outward sign of faith. He was still worthy of a miracle.

Later, Jesus encounters the healed man in the temple. The man shares that it was Jesus that healed him and the Jewish authorities are enraged. When Jesus tells them that he is simply doing the work of his Father, it makes matters worse. Jesus was identifying himself with God. Although the Pharisees also called God their Father, they realized that Jesus was claiming the distinction of being equal with God. Jesus says:

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing, I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:28-30

With these words, Jesus establishes his true identity despite the inherent risk of persecution and what he knows will result in his eventual death. The Old Testament identifies three signs of the coming Messiah. John shows that Jesus has fulfilled all three signs in this chapter:

  • All power and authority are given to him as the Son of Man
  • The lame and the sick are healed
  • The dead are raised to life

Jesus is quite simply saying that to accept him is life and to reject him is death. He’s inviting us to enter in to a new relationship with Him in which we are obedient. It means that we accept a way of life that may be difficult at times and require sacrifice but will end in eternal life. As I prepare for a new week, I’m aware that I am often more like the man at the pool than I am a fearless and obedient Christ follower. I love that today’s scripture brings us the solid evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. He is our Messiah. I hope His words bring you joy and hope as you re-commit yourself to Him. Have a great week!

 

 

 

The Cure

Today’s reading is Luke 20.

As I read the Bible I’d like to be able to compare myself and say I’m like some of the heroes of the Bible such as Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Paul, or even some of those in the New Testament who by faith believed that just by touching Jesus’ cloak or by Him saying the words they, or a member of their family, would be healed. Unfortunately, I find I’m much more like those in Luke 20 who try to challenge and question Jesus and have selfish, impure motives. Here in this chapter we have the chief priests and scribes who question Jesus’ authority to which Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants and later says is Luke 20:45-47 that they exalt themselves and take advantage of others. We also have in this chapter spies sent by the chief priests and scribes who try to test Jesus and ask if they should pay taxes or not, and we have the Sadducees asking Him an irrelevant question about whose wife someone will be in the afterlife.

Instead of just trusting in Him and having peace in the fact that he defeated Satan and sin through his resurrection and will permanently defeat Satan and sin through His second coming foretold in the book of Revelation, I find myself trying to figure out at times why God is letting certain things happen in my life and in the lives of others around me and why He lets the terrible things we see on the news in the world around us happen. This questioning of Him and asking why is clearly Satan impeding and getting us to focus on the problem, not the solution…Jesus!

In his book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson discusses how miracles are happening all around us, but we don’t focus on them, we focus on problems. He discusses that we may feel like we are sitting still right now but the Earth is spinning on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour and the Earth is hurtling through space at 67,108 miles per hour which is not only faster than a speeding bullet but is 87 times faster than the speed of sound. He jokes that even if you didn’t feel like you did much today you traveled 1,599,794 miles through space! He asks, when is the last time we thanked God for keeping us in orbit or said to God, “Lord, I wasn’t sure we would make the full rotation today, but You did it again!” He talks about how the biggest miracle we see daily is really our own life. There are chemical interactions that must take place perfectly in our body every moment for us to be alive and that our brain is performing 10 quadrillion (I didn’t even know that was a number!) calculations per second. We aren’t just surrounded by miracles each day he says, we are one. Just look in the mirror.

This helps us clearly see that when we lose sight of God in our lives, we focus on all the bad things happening and ask why. We focus on the irrelevant like those in Luke 20, as opposed to looking at the miracles he’s performing this very second. And most importantly, this keeps us from focusing on being thankful for the greatest miracle He performed which was sending His perfect Son to die on the cross and to be raised to life to permanently defeat Satan and our sin bringing us back together with Him and giving us eternal life which He didn’t have to do.

Help us focus on You. Jesus…you are the Cure!

The Sabbath

Matthew 12

In Matthew 12, Jesus tackles both the Pharisees misunderstanding of the law and the Sabbath.

Keeping the Sabbath holy was one of the Jewish laws that was taken very seriously. And an easy target for the Pharisees to use against Jesus, as He was performing miracles on the Sabbath. Read through this chapter – do you wonder if Jesus had any sarcasm in his tone? Or were His responses simple and straightforward?

John MacArthur delivered a sermon in 1986 that has stuck with me the past 20 years since I first read the transcript. The focus of the sermon is making decisions when things may be gray. In the intro he shares a humorous story from his youth:

There are people who think that if you do anything on Sunday other than sit and read the Bible, you have entered into sin.  When I was a little guy growing up, I can remember when you were not allowed to do anything on Sunday that even remotely resembled recreation.  We came home in our Little Lord Fauntleroy suits, with the little stiff collar, and a little tie, and sat on the couch all day.  Couldn’t read the funny papers, couldn’t read the sports page, couldn’t look at television, couldn’t go out in the yard and play catch, couldn’t take a walk.  We sat.  The only sin we could commit, and we could commit that sin all we wanted, was the sin of gluttony. We could literally gorge ourselves on Sunday.  And, of course, most of the women spent all morning cooking up this massive meal by which we sinned all afternoon, but couldn’t – but couldn’t run it off.  And so we were stuck with the consequence of our evil.  But that sin was tolerable.  

When we read Matthew 12 (or even John MacArthur’s experience) we may scratch our heads and think “come on, Pharisees, WAKE UP”!  You’re missing the spirit of the law by focusing on the letter of the law! Jesus came to fulfill the law – what is so hard about this to understand!

But when we start to examine our own hearts and even the modern church, we can still find ourselves in a place of judgement and missing the intent of God’s ways. As much as we want to be everything but a Pharisee, our perfection-seeking, works-based theologies can lead us to the heart of a Pharisee.

This past spring I was in the thick of a marathon training cycle, filled with Sunday morning long runs. I love my time on the road – time to think, pray, meditate, sing, focus, oh…and RUN! At the same time, these runs left Sunday mornings a scramble between getting my family to church on time, not being exhausted the rest of the day, etc. While I love the run, it did make my Sundays “fuller” than I would prefer. I mean, nothing says rest like a 20 miler before 9am church! In this same cycle, my training “rest days” of no activity for muscle recovery were Fridays. For some reason, Fridays were anything but restful. While I wouldn’t be pounding the pavement, the days were full of other responsibilities that were anything but restful.

I left the training cycle with an idea.

As much as we try to protect our Sundays as a Sabbath and day to rest in the Lord, oftentimes it’s just NOT. Between the rush to church, serving others at church, prep for the week ahead, and other commitments, it’s never a true and full day of Sabbathing.

Idea: What if our family had one day set aside as a full and complete true Sabbath day.  No commitments, school, sports, activities, training. No place to go, no chores, no laundry, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Not even church. Technology free. Meals prepped, clothes laid out, ready to Sabbath. Just people spending time with the Lord, doing whatever the day brought with time praying, listening for promptings from the Holy Spirit, dreaming, sharing. Doesn’t that sound so wonderful!? We have a Saturday selected this fall and we are going to make it happen!! I don’t want to wait for a vacation away for a true full day of resting in the Lord.

Do you have any ideas on creating a Sabbath experience in your world?  Here are some additional passages about the Sabbath:

Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Leviticus 23:3, Mark 2:27, Hebrews 4:9, Romans 14:5, Colossians 2:16-17

 

The Big D

Matthew 5:31-32 and Psalms 63

I will admit, I LAUGHED OUT LOUD when reading this month’s outline for the Bible Journal project. A deeper focus on one topic, maybe just one verse. I scroll down to my assignment: April 14th, Divorce, Matthew 5:31-32 and Psalms 63.  Lord, you really are just hysterical sometimes!

My parents are divorced, I married someone that is divorced, and my own marriage has been on the brink of divorce. I don’t know if this makes me a subject matter expert, or so completely biased that I’m the last person that should be journaling today. HA!

As Jesus addresses all of the different topics in His sermon on the mount, He explains, clarifies, and helps us find FREEDOM in living more fully focused on God. Specific to divorce, He reminds us that when separating/leaving your spouse, you need to give a legal certificate for divorce (don’t just stop living with them). He explains that without the actual certificate of divorce, you would be causing sin (adultery) if/when the person remarries. He also reinforces the acceptable grounds for divorce – adultery.

Clearly the Lord takes marriage vows seriously. They’re not only vows made to one another, but to Him. He doesn’t want them broken, and when they must be, He wants order even in the brokenness.

The topic of divorce brings a lot of controversy – today, and apparently ALWAYS – both in and outside of the church. I’m guessing it’s because divorce is the result of sin, which begets more sin, even beyond the divorcing party. Family and friends can find themselves judging, gossiping, harboring bitterness, anger and hatred. Divorce can really bring out all of our ugly. And all of our opinions and infighting.

I wish none of us ever had to study these verses or apply them to our life’s circumstances. I’m no stranger to the heartbreak and pain of divorce. It’s real, raw, and just plain awful. The wounds run deep and the healing is rarely linear. While I don’t have the answers, I will share a few general points of encouragement based on some of my experiences:

If you are a child of divorced parents, please believe, more than anything, that this is not your fault. Whatever sin was in your parent(s) lives that led to this, it’s not what you wanted and not what God wanted. I hope you know that God wants to help you heal from all of the hurts this brought you. I pray your parent(s) can repent and seek forgiveness from God and from you and relationships can be restored. Most of all, I pray that you can have a deep relationship with your heavenly Father that brings overwhelming love into your life. He loves you, and He knows every tear you have shed (Psalms 56:8).

If you are considering separation/divorce, or already in the middle of it, please, take your time.  Seek biblical counseling and cling to any amount of hope you can find. Remember, God is still in the business of making miracles!  Go to the word and pray for direction. God doesn’t contradict Himself – the Holy Spirit won’t press upon your heart to move in one direction that is contrary to Jesus’ spoken words.  Our God is a perfect way-maker – even when we can’t see a way, He goes before us.  I can’t always get my mind around the long-term picture, but I can trust Him in this moment, right now.

If you are divorced, and there are any areas you still need healing, cry out to the Lord. Regardless of the circumstances of the divorce, almost all parties harbor feelings of failure, guilt, resentment, or unrest. Seek the Lord, He is the best healer and perfect forgiver – He doesn’t want us stuck in a pit of bitterness, shame, sin, or self loathing. He wants to make you whole in Him. All of our life experiences can be used to glorify Him. Revelation 12:11 exemplifies how we can be OVERCOMERS – by Jesus’ blood + our testimony of His work in our life.

If you are a friend or family member of someone in the middle of a divorce, I have found the best support can be listening and praying. Take a step beyond praying for them, and actually pray WITH them. When asked for advice, leverage the scripture on the areas surrounding divorce. Encourage biblical counseling. Be a source of hope and healing. Try to not get sucked into gossip and slander. Take time to cover yourself in the Armor of God before offering any words.

We know that all sin is unrighteousness against God, whether it’s the sin of gossip, divorce without basis, lying, etc.  On this side of heaven we may feel the consequences greater of one sin compared to another – but it’s not in our wisdom to rank them and put each others’ sins above or below our own.

Wherever this heart-pouring on divorce finds you, you can forget all of my thoughts and opinions and remember this:

God wants everything BUT divorce in His relationship with YOU. He wants us reconciled to Him in a committed relationship for eternity! People will fail. God does not fail. He won’t let you down – He’d rather die than live without you!

Get Up and Walk

We all have things going on in our lives.  Some we share, some we don’t.  Maybe we are afraid of what others will say or think of you or the situation?  Maybe you just don’t want others to know? When we allow moments like this to linger it hurts. As I read through Matthew 9 I’m reminded Jesus heals.  To be honest, we all need healing. As I write this post, I think of my family dealing with addictions, physical pain, diagnoses , and even conversations of divorce. With some friends we have talked about recent losses, a future loss that is down to hours, addictions, abuse, anxiety and fears. I have also talked with others who have recently shared numerous things that are going on in their lives.  From loss of life, drug addictions, alcohol abuse, physical and verbal abuse, conversations of divorce, cancer, sickness, and everything in between.  It hurts to live out these situations, it hurts to hear them.  I take a deep breath, look up, and ask for Jesus to have his perfect love to be part of it all.  When I hear these stories my heart hurts and then I remember Jesus heals. Matthew 8 and Matthew 9 reminds us of the many ways in which Jesus healed so many people. The same Jesus that healed so many then is for us now. I think of a great friend who had his mother be diagnosed with a condition where she couldn’t walk. Through prayers, and Jesus’s grace and love she is now walking up to get communion. Jesus heals, and even though it may not always be by our timing.  He is faithful. . No matter where you at, Jesus can heal, taking away the pain that seems to linger, that leaves you most days half minded, or the pain that causes you to make choice to self medicate in a fashion that puts pain, fear, and worries to the side only to have them right back in front of you and probably worse next time.

No matter what you have going on, God has compassion.  God loves you!  There is nothing you have done, doing, or will do that will take His love away. In Matthew 9:2 Jesus heals a man who is paralyzed. So if you are spiritually blind, mute, paralyzed, sick, or even dead.  Jesus can heal.  He has already proven it.

So, in Matthew 9:28 Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able to do this? ” Do you? I do! He has proven it time and time again.  He can prove it with you.  He can prove it anyone! No matter what is going on with you, your spouse, a friend, a daughter, son, mother, father, whoever it may be, Jesus heals. You have to believe.

In the moments when things are hard and can take over your body, heart, mind, and souls.  Jesus says, “Get up and walk!”,  “Follow Me!” Matthew 9:5

“Take heart daughter or son, your faith has healed you.” Matthew 9:22

I Believe You Are My Healer – Hillsong

Today’s Reading Matthew 9 & Psalm 82

 

 

 

Miracles and You

Empty wheelchair on the meadow at sunset. Miracle concept. Healed person raised and went away

Today’s Readings: 2 Kings 20, Hebrews 2, Hosea 13, Psalms 137-138

“In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” 2 Kings 20: 1-6

So, I was really hoping to find something in my readings today about healing. Ta -da!! I just picture God sitting on his throne saying, “ta-da!” all day long. No really, I spent some time earlier this week studying my scripture for today and had a totally different post in mind. After church, I was so moved by the number of people that responded to an alter call for healing I wanted to write about it. Some research revealed that Hezekiah’s reign lasted 29 years. His kingdom was invaded in the 14th year which means that this sudden and severe illness must have occurred in the same year as the Syrian invasion. Imagine how he must have felt knowing that his kingdom was threatened and his body is now failing. I think Hezekiah’s situation truly embodies our worst fears. The fear that we will fall ill quickly, lose our life and our “kingdoms” will perish. What follows of course is an instruction from God through the prophet Isaiah to “…put your house in order.” This immediately got me thinking. Do I have my physical, emotional and spiritual house in order?

What so moved me today in church was first the number of people that came forward asking for prayers of healing. I know that for every single person that came forward there were at least two more in the seats that were too fearful to do the same. The line grew and grew as the songs came to a close, those people still stood bravely in silence. The second thing that was so truly convicting was the love and support of our congregation for each one of those sick people. Not one person went to an elder alone, and in some cases there were 7 or 8 people gathered with arms around each other. I was listening to a TED talk this week about beating cancer. The speaker said that one day we will all be faced with big decisions about our health and ultimately confronted with death. He spoke about planning for that day ahead of time by making decisions ahead of time about quality of live versus quantity of time for life. What he didn’t speak about is prayer. I noticed that the very first thing Hezekiah does after being told about his impending death is pray. And yes, the very next sentence says that he wept. Bitterly. The story goes on. The Lord tells the prophet Isaiah to tell his servant Hezekiah that he has heard his prayer, that he has seen his tears and he will extend his life!

Through prayer and wholehearted devotion Hezekiah is healed. God performed a miracle. He saved his servant Hezekiah and his people. Are we brave enough to go to him in that whole hearted way? I found myself asking this question today in church. In fact when the alter call came, I asked my husband if we should go to get our 5 year old son out of Sunday school so that we could bring him up. I quickly decided against it, saying to my husband that he was learning and praying in his space and we shouldn’t interrupt that. The more I think about it though, what held me back was a feeling of unworthiness. A feeling that I couldn’t ask for our son’s Crohn’s to be healed. I’m not sure why. I wonder how many other people are feeling that same way. How many others think that maybe they aren’t a good enough Christian or maybe they have made mistakes that somehow disqualify them from God’s grace.

After reading and praying over this passage from 2 Kings I realize now that God saved Hezekiah not just for the one man but for the entire community of people he represented. Yes, he was a King but he was also responsible for defending the lives of God’s people. We are all God’s people. No matter what mistakes we have made, no matter how old or young, what kind of life we’ve led, we are worthy of being saved. What God responded to was not the seriousness of Hezekiah’s position but his heartfelt plea for salvation. What would happen if we made that same plea? Are we willing to believe in a miracle? Are we brave enough to ask for one? As I watched the line at church grow, my fear diminished. It’s not easy to share our vulnerability in public or online as the case may be. I pray that this post reaches at least one person that needs healing. I pray that you will reach out to Him and ask for it. We are all worthy.

Jesus Heals!

Today’s Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 

I love stories about our Lord’s healing.  It encourages and builds my faith when I need it most. Stories upon stories have been shared and lived out about Jesus healing. How awesome is He! What are the ways in which he has healed you?

Today’s ReadingJudges 2; Acts 6; Jeremiah 15; Mark 1

As we read through Mark you will hear some of these healing stories.  Jesus healed and continues to heal.  Are you in need of some healing?

Last week you heard an amazing story from Jennifer Armstrong and the healing that Jesus provided to her in Great is Thy Faithfulness.  Truly, when it comes down to healing we will need to examine our faithfulness. Let’s look at a few of these amazing stories in Mark 1 and grow together in believing that when our faith is strong our Lord is near and can heal anyone at any moment spiritually, mentally, and physically. (1 Corinthians 1:18, Luke 6:9-10, Mark 10:52, Luke 7:47-50).

Once Jesus heals the man with an Unclean Spirit in Mark 1:24-26 everyone is amazed and realize his authority over all. Jesus then heals Simon’s Mother-In-Law bringing the whole city to allow Jesus to heal many who were sick.

 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

We recognize and receive God’s healing through our faith.  Many times Jesus would heal those who had faith (ex. Mark 5:34, Luke 8:48) and got frustrated when others would want some kind of sign to show he could heal others. (ex. John 4:48, Luke 24:25 ) Keep the faith!

We also get the opportunity to share God’s grace of healing to others through our faith or confidence in God’s Word. This is an active faith not passive faith. We must share our faith with others. This could be through our prayers with others who are in the middle of tribulations. Mark 11:24

Jesus is our healer. His calendar is never too full for any of us.  No situation is too big or small when you ask. His treatment is gentle and results are wonderful. The way a believer receives God’s healing power is through faith. God’s healing power is available to us through the grace of Jesus Christ. We are Living in God’s Grace. Viv Anba Gras Bon Dieu.

So where do you need healing? Is it physically, mentally, or spiritually? It’s hard to do anything when you are in pain. Life is not filled with JOY. What about those you interact with throughout your day? God heals!  He is the great physician and He can heal anyone of any affliction, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There are going to be times in your life when you’ll need God to heal you or a loved one, so pray to God for the healing that you need.

Dear God,  You are our healer. Let us call on you when we are in need and recognize that you alone are the one who we need to have faith in. Thank you for your love, grace, and healing you have already provided and for being there when we fail to remember. Amen

 

Listening Pleasure: Kari Jobe ~ Healer