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Archive for October, 2008

Holy Chaos

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.” Mark 6:53-56

 

Every time I read this passage I have to stop and think about it.  It creates a mental image of people running around frantically, rushing to bring their sick loved ones to Him.  They knew who He was and what He could do, so the only thing that mattered at that moment was getting that news to the people who needed to hear it.

There is something here of a desperation to get people to Jesus.

I find it also in Luke 5:18-19.   “Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.  And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.”

See this scene – Jesus is teaching, people are all around him, and like a spider on a silken thread, this paralyzed man is lowered from the roof into the midst of the crowd.  Debris from the roof may have been falling on the people who had gathered to listen to Jesus.  The whole meeting was likely disrupted as this man came to rest on the ground before Jesus.  Somehow I don’t think this man or his friends were very concerned about that.  They just had to get him to Jesus.  Verse 20 says “when He saw their faith”.  This type of determination to bring someone to Jesus, convinced that in Him they will find all needs met was a demonstration of their faith in Christ as all sufficient.

In our day of multitudinous solutions offered to solve our problems – medication, therapy, whatever – Jesus is still the only answer.  Only as we, His people, are completely convinced of this will we demonstrate this type of determination to bring others to Him.
 

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What exactly would it look like to give all to Jesus? To totally devote the entirety of your life to Him? It would probably look different for each one of us. I’m sure not everyone would be called to preach or be a missionary. Almost certainly there would be some changes though.

But what would it look like for me? I have been wondering this lately. I have a nice life. Nothing fancy. Simple, but nice. I love Jesus with all my heart and spend almost all of my free time in some type of spiritual activity. But is this giving all my life to Jesus?

I am asking Him this type of question these days. Life has been, for the most part, safe and predictable. Not much risk. Not much danger.

Not much accomplished to glorify God in the furtherance of His kingdom.

That’s how it seems to me right now, anyway. And I am seriously wondering what it would look like for me to give it all to Jesus.

What about you?

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Hold fast the faithful Word – Titus 1:9

This piece of Scripture expresses what has been resonating in my soul for many months. In a world filled with many voices speaking loudly, and almost all of them speaking forth things that are contrary to the Word of God, how desperately we need to hold fast to the faithful Word of God.

Notice that it is not a faithful word, it is THE faithful Word.

Oh God, help me to cling to the truth of Your Word, casting away all that contradicts the pure message of the gospel. Daily I am bombarded by the world’s messages that attempt to persuade me to believe lies. The only safety for me is to have a heart filled with the Word of God. So fill my heart, Oh God, as I read and study. Fill it with Your precious truth.

The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart Psalm 119:111

Your testimonies, which You have commanded, Are righteous and very faithful. Psalm 119:138

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160

Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble. Psalm 119:165

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His Glory

Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:29-31

While reading this passage today, I stopped to meditate on it for a moment. These great crowds that came to Jesus this day, many of them had with them a friend or loved one with a need. What a massive amount of human suffering was represented in this group of people. I wonder how many of them had given up hope of ever being well and had become resigned to this suffering as their lot in life – some bearing it well, some not so well.

Imagine hearing the news that there is a man who is able to heal. What hope must have begun to spring up in the hearts of the people. So they came, bringing their sick ones. And they did not gently lay them at Jesus’ feet, but the word used here means they flung them down before Him in haste, as many others pushed to get their sick ones before Jesus. What a chaotic scene!

But then imagine the rejoicing that must surely have followed as one after another the sick were healed. Family after family received their loved ones back in wholeness. Oh what a joyous celebration there must have been, with shouts of joy mixed with tears of thanksgiving. Mothers weeping over the child whose suffering from sickness is over, wives hugging the husband whose injury has been healed.

I have wondered what it was like for Jesus to watch the response of the people to the miraculous works He was performing. Did He enter into the joy of the moment? I feel certain He must have. But even more than that, He surely was pleased with this: “And they glorified the God of Israel.”

More and more I find this one phrase has become the passion and desire of my life – “all things for the glory of God.” There is no higher goal, no purpose of life that brings God more pleasure than living all of it for His glory. All my good works, all my diligent devotion, what good is any of it if it brings attention to my (supposed) goodness and knowledge, but does not point others to the glorious God who works in me both to will and to do?

Can I lay down my desire to be noticed and praised in order to bring notice and praise to the only worthy One? By the power of His Spirit I can, and I must. God help us all to live each day, each moment for His glory alone.

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Recently in prayer meeting we sang that old hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” and I haven’t been able to get this phrase out of my mind – “merciful and mighty”.  Our God is powerful, mighty, able to destroy me with a glance if He so desired.  And He would not be unjust to do so.  But He is also merciful, and because of this great mercy He directed his great power toward my redemption, not my destruction.

 

Ephesians 2:4-7  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

God is glorified by the display of His grace in me.  We, the church, are like a trophy case.  God points to us and says to all powers and principalities “Do you see this one?  Particularly wicked, she was.  But now, spotless, blameless and righteous through the blood of My Son.”  And all of heaven and earth can do no less than marvel at the kindness and mercy of God towards one so undeserving.  It is a grace that astonishes and leaves one with their eyes wide with wonder.

 

It truly is amazing.

 

 

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This is the path – I lay it all down
This is the way – I take up my cross
Following You Jesus
Leaving all else
It is no sacrifice

Greater love has no one than this
Laying his life down for a Friend
Receive from me
This greater love
It is no sacrifice

All worldly possessions I have gained
Few though they may be
Valueless now
I leave them behind
It is no sacrifice

Turning away from worldly pleasures
The amusements I once pursued
Vain and worthless
I forsake them all
It is no sacrifice

The life of absolute surrender
It is my chosen pathway now
Yearning to remain
Yielded and broken
It is no sacrifice

Are you ready to give up self to death
I hear the Savior say to me
I lay my life down
Upon the altar
This is my offering

It is no sacrifice

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Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 1 Samuel 14:19

 

Israel was engaged in battle with the Philistines. Saul has commanded the priest to bring the ark, presumably so he could inquire of God for direction in the battle. As the priest is inquiring, Saul hears the noise of battle and becomes aware of a shift in circumstances – the enemy is fleeing. He decides there is no longer any need to inquire of the Lord. He instructs the priest to “withdraw his hand”, and then engages in the battle. He has in essense just told the Lord “nevermind”. Not a wise move. But then Saul was not especially well known for his wisdom in dealing with the things of God.

For several days this phrase stayed with me – withdraw your hand. I couldn’t seem to get away from it – a sure sign that the Lord had something more to show me about this verse. The moment of revelation came earlier this week during my prayer time. Several months ago I had begun crying out to the Lord to increase my love for others. This prayer was answered in some amazing ways, bringing much joy into my life as I saw the hand of God at work in this area. But then a few days ago I realized that the love was all but gone and I began to question why. In answer to my prayer the Lord brought this verse to my mind again – withdraw your hand.

There are times when I am deeply aware of my deficiencies and failures. At these times I become desperate for the Lord to change me and I seek Him earnestly to do that. And He is always so faithful to answer. But as He begins to work and I see change, I cease to pray, thinking that all is well with me now. And my life becomes characterized by this verse in Galatians 3 “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

What is it about us that we so strongly resist the dependence that the Lord requires in order to bring about true Christ exalting transformation? Preferring our own efforts, we miss the beauty of fellowship with our Lord that takes place during these times of seeking Him to guide and lead us into victory over the Philistines in our own lives.

Oh Lord, I know not how to battle, I know not how to fight, but must have Your guidance and Your hand at work in my life. Should you withdraw Your hand and leave me to my own devices, defeat is certain. Help me to ever humble myself under Your mighty hand.

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