Monthly Archives: July 2020

Love God Not The World

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Tug of War

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Most of us have played the game Tug of War. The purpose is to get an equal number of people and strength on opposite sides of a rope. To make things interesting some people put a pit of mud in the middle. Those who lose the battle fall into the miry pit.

We are in a tug of war every day. The war is with our hearts. We have Satan and his demons on one end of the rope and the Lord and His angels on the other. So you may think, “Oh that is easy; Jesus will win every time.”

Each day there is a tug of war in the spiritual realms for our soul. Ephesians 6:10-12 says:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV)

You feel this tug of war in your spirit. Sometimes you choose to side with the Lord and sometimes you take sides with Satan and his demons. I don’t have to tell you when you take Satan’s side; you already know.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV)

You see, it is our choice what side of the rope we are on each day. Also, each day we can waver back and forth to what side of the rope best fits our desire. The rope represents our life and that there are forces we cannot see struggling for our minds. Everything we do is a condition of our heart.

Since we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and our hearts are deceitful, we can easily wind up on Satan’s side of the Tug of War game. But the Lord’s side is the only side we will have victory.

Today, Satan and his demons desire for our hearts to be self-centered. We may gravitate to do what we feel we deserve, no matter what the cost to others. We may take shortcuts and not be entirely truthful. We are all a selfish group of men and women who need a heart transplant every day. But in order for anyone to get a heart transplant, they need to go to the hospital.

Most of us wait too long to get the help we need and Satan wins another battle. No matter how deep we are in the pit, no matter how far we have fallen, it is never too late to get on the Lord’s side of the rope.

And that is just the beginning. When we get on the Lord’s winning side, we still need to fight. We still need to pull our weight on the rope. Fight for purity and righteousness. Fight for the desire to be on the winning team and not get lulled onto the losing team.

All of us have a choice in every decision we make today. Today has enough decisions of its own; don’t get bogged down with the future. The future is in God’s hands. Right now, as you are reading this, you are already in the war for the day. Do you know whose side you are on? Please don’t be on the side pulling against Jesus and other believers. It is easy to do when we are leading a sinful life and don’t care. Plead your case to Jesus. He always hears you and wants to restore you to His side. Remember, in one breath Jesus can obliterate the other side if he so chooses.

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Go Ahead, Shine

by:  John UpChurch, crosswalk.com

 

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” – Philippians 2:14-16

The quick-burning desire to be an astronomer came during year three of my college experience. That was after philosopher, writer (the first time), and English professor, but before anthropologist, high school teacher, and writer (the second time). You can’t blame a guy for wanting to wring every cent out of his scholarships.

So, in year three, I became convinced that I would study space because… well… because I loved planets and stuff. With the same gusto that had carried me through my philosophy phase, I charged into star charts and calculated orbits with fury and fine-tipped lead pencils. I pored over research on black holes and quasars and stared intently into the night sky trying to figure out how in the world someone could think that a certain cluster of stars could look anything like a person or a goat or whatever.

Then, reality hit in the way of astrophysics. The funny thing about studying the stars is that you have to be able to calculate distances, luminosity, parallaxes, and more fancy terms. I could crunch equations just fine, but that doesn’t mean I found it more satisfying than, say, ripping off a bandage from my legs.

Before I came to know Christ, all that nadir gazing did produce one substantial result in me: deep, deep emptiness. You can’t help but feel how small you are when you peer into the infinite-seeming inkiness of space. The more you see how incomprehensibly expansive everything really is, the more you feel speck-like in the cosmic order. The weight of eternity came crushing in on me.

And in that darkness, I needed light. This “crooked and depraved” man groped about for anything that would shine, some embers of hope. Not finding them in philosophy or books or even astronomy, the pressure just got worse. I kept feeling my way through the darkness into whatever classes the university offered, but through each of my potential career paths, I found nothing that could illuminate the road around me.

Of course, I wouldn’t have put it in those terms back then. At that point, I just knew something was messed up, and I couldn’t figure out what. I needed the “word of life.” But I didn’t know I needed it, and I didn’t know where to find it.

Intersecting Faith & Life: That’s where we come in as Christians. People like the old me don’t always even know what gnaws at them. Some have so subverted the pain that it plays out in pursuits of passion: They mute it with noise, clutter, medicine, or flesh. They prefer to find ways to ignore the crushing weight.

And then they see the stars. At least, they should see the stars. I don’t necessarily mean the stars in the night, since city lights drown them out for most of us nowadays. I mean, they need to see the stars around them who shine through their Jesus-emulating behavior. That light has the power to both expose their blindness and help them see.

So, shine. People like the old me are counting on it.

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God Is Near

 

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. — Luke 12:7

Never take for granted My intimate nearness. Marvel at the wonder of My continual Presence with you. Even the most ardent human lover cannot be with you always. Nor can another person know the intimacies of your heart, mind, and spirit. I know everything about you — even the number of hairs on your head. You don’t need to work at revealing yourself to Me.

Many people spend a lifetime or a small fortune searching for someone who understands them. Yet I am freely available to all who call upon My Name, who open their hearts to receive Me as Savior. This simple act of faith is the beginning of a lifelong love story.

I, the Lover of your soul, understand you perfectly and love you eternally.

What does God’s “ultimate nearness” mean? Do you take His Presence for granted? How?

What comfort does God’s loving knowledge — even the number of hairs on your head — provide?

We are not only fully known and understood but also eternally loved. What assurances does this give?

Read More: Psalm 145:18 NKJV; John 1:12Romans 10:13

 

Finding Him

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. — Hebrews 3:1

I am renewing your mind. When your thoughts flow freely, they tend to move toward problems. Your focus gets snagged on a given problem, circling round and round it in attempts to gain mastery. Your energy is drained away from other matters through this negative focus. Worst of all, you lose sight of Me.

A renewed mind is Presence- focused.

Train your mind to seek Me in every moment, every situation. Sometimes you can find Me in your surroundings: a lilting birdsong, a loved one’s smile, golden sunlight. At other times, you must draw inward to find Me. I am always present in your spirit.

Seek My Face, speak to Me, and I will light up your mind.

Do your thoughts “tend to move toward problems”? Why?

How have you seen the truth that “a renewed mind is Presence-focused” in your own life?

God is always present with us. When do you feel God most near?

Read More: Psalm 105:4Romans 12:2

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Streams in the Desert – July 31

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill.  Ps 78:72

When you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one…Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track…As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has preceded you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams. Launch forth upon it; it conducts to the open sea.

God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
—F. B. Meyer

If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you; but He will not comfort your distrust or half-trust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you. He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farther.
—Horace Bushnell

As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and shoals;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.

Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.

—Thomas Curtis Clark

Hold On To Your Faith

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Holding On

Two birds battled in our driveway. The beak of one was clamped firmly on the leg of the other and it would not let go. The captured bird wrestled frantically to break loose. They jerked, thrashed, and rolled. I sat spellbound as they continued to lurch and tumble as each fought to gain the advantage.

I spotted the birds as I was leaving home to run an errand. I don’t know how long they had been locked in combat, but it looked like a fight to the death. After watching almost ten minutes, I needed to go, but the birds blocked my path. When the front tire of my car was within a foot of them, the attacking bird finally released its grip and the two flew away, free.

The battle reminded me of a time my husband, Robert, and I had struggled. We must have looked just like those fighting birds. Conflict threatened to destroy our marriage and we couldn’t seem to work through it. We kept thrashing and tumbling as we sought to gain advantage. At every turn, one or both of us was hurt. I thought the emotional bumps and bruises would never cease.

Our struggles in relationships are often lengthened because, like the birds, neither gives in. We hold on, refusing to let go. We don’t realize that as long as we maintain our grip, we are trapped too. We are jerked, tossed, and tumbled, being wounded along with the other.

Throughout the struggle with Robert, I never guessed that I held the key to stopping it. Freedom came after I finally realized I was holding onto Robert’s leg through judgment. My judgment of him kept us locked in conflict, destroying the peace we once knew.

Initially, I didn’t approve of a decision Robert made and was afraid our family would suffer. My fear led me to be too forceful when we first talked about my fears, and nothing changed. Even as I tried to be respectful and supportive, I was thinking, “you shouldn’t be doing that,” and “You ought to …” I held him by the leg with my shouldsand oughts and continued to judge his decisions. I was not aware of my judgment, just of the fear of the consequences we could suffer from his choices.

Meanwhile, it felt to Robert like I didn’t respect him and he couldn’t do anything right. Even when I didn’t say anything, he sensed my underlying judgment. It was hard for him to hear God because of fear of my reactions.

As the conflict continued, my greatest concern was Robert’s lack of seeking the Lord. How could we expect God’s blessing if we didn’t seek His direction? What I didn’t realize was that I was standing between my husband and God. He was so afraid of my reaction that he couldn’t find the Lord. I was in the way.

Jesus’ words are so true,

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2 NASB).

As long as I remained judgmental against my husband, I felt judged by him. The consequences of my judgment were worse than those from his decisions. For months, we scrambled like two birds in the driveway.

When I released Robert from my shoulds and oughts and trusted God to work out His purposes, Robert and I were both freed. He was free to hear God, and we both found peace with God and could reestablish the fellowship we had once enjoyed with each other.

The same principle holds true with my in-laws, pastor, co-worker, and neighbor. If I dwell on how they should and ought to be doing something, there is conflict. If I trust God to work in their lives, I don’t get caught up in struggles I can’t get out of. Instead of holding on, I need to release people and circumstances into God’s hands. He is the judge.

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1, NASB).

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Defying Gravity – Crosswalk the Devotional – July 30

by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14

While I was in elementary school, family friends made the decision to leave the States for Kiev, Ukraine. This family of seven, including children my age, had to downgrade from a four-bedroom suburban home to an 800 square foot flat. That meant getting rid of a house full of clothes, toys, yard tools, furniture, dishes – a whole host of personal preferences and “needs.” Each family member had the luxury of one big trunk as they moved halfway around the world.

For this family, however, the joy of sharing the Gospel in a former USSR satellite nation outweighed all their possessions. My dad asked his friend how he was handling the sudden “loss.” His answer was telling.

“Actually,” the new missionary responded, “this is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.”

This family found a special freedom far before I began to sniff it out. For me, this reorientation is coming slowly, helped along recently by a little book called The Treasure Principle. In it, Randy Alcorn uses a science metaphor to explain why our friends felt unshackled rather than empty. He writes:

It’s a matter of basic physics. The greater the mass, the greater the hold that mass exerts. The more things we own—the greater their total mass the more they grip us, setting us in orbit around them. Finally, like a black hole, they suck us in.

Consider our materialism that way – the more stuff, the more mass. The more mass, the greater its gravitational pull. And the harder it is to escape.

Compare this to David’s exhilaration in 1 Chronicles. He is humbled not by how much God has blessed him with – but by how much God has allowed him to give away. The king of Israel, a center of the ancient world, found his joy not in the palaces and the women at his disposal, but in the act of returning to God was rightfully God’s. How many of us can say the same?

We live in a physical, material world. But we have the chance to defy its hold on us with every cent, toy, and “need” that comes our way. Are you ready?

 

First Fall Breeze

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. — Acts 3:19

You think it will never happen as you perspire your way through the dog days of summer. When the fans run full blast and there isn’t enough sweet tea in the world to quench your thirst. The pavement is hot, the air is thick, and the mosquitoes outnumber the people. You begin operating in survival mode, believing that, maybe, this will actually be the year when it doesn’t show up.

Then, one morning, you step outside onto your front porch, and you feel it. There’s something different in the air — a coolness that tells you fall has finally arrived. There’s a crispness to the wind that invigorates you as the burden- some heat of summer fades away. Your heart is lightened, and your spirit is revived. There isn’t anything quite as refreshing as that first fall breeze that announces the arrival of a new season.

Our lives go through seasons, just like the calendar. There are periods when we feel weary from the weight of our sins. The guilt and shame we carry are as oppressive as the heat of a Southern July day. There seems to be no end in sight, and we find ourselves just trying to survive. That is not the life our heavenly Father desires for His children. Thankfully, just as we turn a calendar page, we can turn from the heaviness of our former ways.

Just like that first fall breeze, repentance will bring a refreshing new season into our lives. When we turn from our sins and turn toward Jesus, forgiveness blows over us like a crisp autumn wind, and new energy is instilled in us. The sky is a little brighter, the colors are a little bolder, and our steps are a little lighter as the burden is lifted.

Walking in freedom with Jesus is as stimulating as that first fall breeze. Everything that once weighed us down just falls away, and a fresh beginning is ours for the taking. Everything is brimming with possibility, and the opportunities are endless.

 

Your Loving Shepherd

by Inspiration Ministries

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” – Psalm 23:1-3 ESV

Even as a boy, George Herbert impressed others with his character. Some said that he seemed “marked out for piety, and to become the care of Heaven.” When he was fifteen, he was described as being “perfect” in classical languages, particularly Greek.

Born in 1593, Hebert went on to attend Trinity College at Cambridge, England. When he was appointed the school’s public orator, it became his duty to give speeches in Latin to visiting dignitaries. At one time, some thought he was destined for a career in politics. Instead, he became a minister.

He wrote many poems. One of them told how he looked at Jesus as his shepherd. It was called “The God of Love My Shepherd Is.” Herbert knew Jesus was his shepherd, and He was motivated by love. This brought him safety and peace. “While He is mine, and I am His, what can I want or need?”

He knew that Jesus would lead and provide for him. And if he strayed, Jesus would correct him and bring him home. Trusting in Jesus, he had no reason to fear for He was with Him every step of the way. Herbert knew that His “sweet and wondrous love” would be with him throughout life, “as it never shall remove so neither shall my praise.”

Remember the simple truth that Jesus wants to be your shepherd, leading you, protecting you, and directing you. He loves you!

The Lord’s Prayer

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The Lord’s Prayer

From: cbn.com

What is the Lord’s Prayer?

In Matthew 6:9-13 and in Luke 11:2-4 we read of Jesus teaching his disciples how they should pray.  This popular Scripture is known as The Lord’s Prayer, and some know it by Our Father Prayer. Below you can read through and memorize the Lord’s Prayer as it was the example Jesus used when asked how we should pray. Remember though that it is a teaching tool not a magical saying that can influence God differently than any other prayer from our hearts.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer in Bible Scriptures:

Matthew 6:9-13 – “This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Luke 11:2-4 – “He said to them, “When you pray, say: ” ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

6 Steps of Prayer taught in the Lord’s Prayer.

1. Address God’s rightful place as the Father
2. Worship and praise God for who He is and all that He has done
3. Acknowledge that it is God’s will and plans are in control and not our own
4. Ask God for the things that we need
5. Confess our sins and repent
6. Request protection and help in overcoming sin and Satan’s attacks on us

As you read this Scripture, let it soak into your heart and begin to talk to God honestly and openly. He created you, loves you, and wants to hear from you! Use the Lord’s Prayer as a way to walk through communicating with God!

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Our Father who ‘Arts’ in Heaven

Some of my favorite moments with the Lord have been when I’ve gone out to interact with Him in nature. When I was pastoring in Pennsylvania, I’d love to drive into the Allegheny National Forest to read my Bible, pray, and meditate as I sat on the side of a small mountain overlooking the Allegheny River.

That little patch of earth is called “Hearts Content,” which is a very good name for such a place.

I felt His presence in a very special way another time when I visited the Grand Canyon. I arrived at the rim of the canyon and looked across, then down, down, down, down. At first, I was speechless. Then when my breath returned, all I could say was “glory to God.”

I remember first sensing God in nature as a small child. In my hometown there’s a beautiful place called Presque Isle State Park, which is a seven mile sandy peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, creating a placid bay on one side and the mighty waves of an inland sea on the other. The land in between is a series of long fingers of sand lined up in rows with small lagoons dividing them. Over time, forests have grown up in the midst of these bands of windblown sand so that deer, fox, raccoons, and other animals make their homes along the edge of the numerous ponds.

Spending time in wondrous places like these always fills me with a sense of God’s peace and joy. Scripture says:

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made… ” (Romans 1:20 ESV)

I grew up in a family of seven children and when we were kids, my parents would crowd us into the van and take us down to Presque Isle. The lakeshore is situated on an angle, so it appears like the sun is sinking down into the water at sunset. In the summertime, my dad would come home from work and we would go down to the beach to catch the sunset.

Sitting on a weather-worn wooden picnic table, the August wind whipped through our hair as the soft sand gathered between our toes. Hugging each other as young families do, we would watch as the giant orange orb slowly descended into the rippling water – sending out vibrant rays of purple, gray, and orange across the dark greenish-blue water. I don’t remember who first came up with it, but someone started saying, “Our Father, who ‘arts’ in heaven…” and we all chimed in.

As a little boy, I was surrounded by artwork. My father was a prolific portrait artist, so he was always working on another painting. The smell of oils, acrylics, and turpentine filled his studio. I knew him as “my father who ‘arts’ in Erie.”

But it was those wonderful moments with my family out in nature that first planted the fire in my heart to also know my “Father who ‘arts’ in heaven.”

I believe that life is a never-ending process of learning to know and love this God of wonders. If we are looking for Him, God will reveal Himself in any number of ways; through loving family members; through a pastor or friends at church; through the beauty of nature; through tragedy and sorrow, or through joy and triumph; through His wonderful Scriptures; and even through a glorious sunset.

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A Courageous Life

From: Proverbs31

Ephesians 1:18-21

When we recognize God’s presence with us, courage starts to develop in us. It grows as we draw on His strength. Without God’s power, we’ll find that hardship and stress drain us emotionally and hurt us physically, leaving us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.

After 40 years of wandering, the nation of Israel was in such a state. They should have believed the two spies who trusted in the Lord’s presence and power. But instead, allowing their weakness to hold sway, the people sided with the remaining ten spies, who claimed the Canaanite obstacles were too great (Num. 13:26-32).

In contrast, Paul faced the Roman tribunal after enduring great hardship but was not dismayed, because God stood with him and strengthened him. Times of helplessness and weakness are in reality opportunities to receive an abundance of divine power (Phil. 4:13).

Being yielded to God’s purposes is essential for developing courage. Paul knew God had a plan for every event in his life—even the hardest ones. Instead of seeking a way out of trials, accept God’s way, and you’ll find courage welling up from within. Imagine yourself standing next to God, drawing on His strength.

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Streams in the Desert – July 29

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the day of trouble? (Job 38:22-23).

Our trials are great opportunities. Too often we look on them as great obstacles. It would be a haven of rest and an inspiration of unspeakable power if each of us would henceforth recognize every difficult situation as one of God’s chosen ways of proving to us His love and look around for the signals of His glorious manifestations; then, indeed, would every cloud become a rainbow, and every mountain a path of ascension and a scene of transfiguration.

If we will look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our Heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessings, has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side.

God’s jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King’s palace and the Bridegroom’s love.
–A. B. Simpson

Trust Him in the dark, honor Him with unwavering confidence even in the midst of mysterious dispensations, and the recompense of such faith will be like the moulting of the eagle’s plumes, which was said to give them a new lease of youth and strength.
–J. R. Macduff

If we could see beyond today
As God can see;
If all the clouds should roll away,
The shadows flee;
O’er present griefs we would not fret.
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet
For you and me.
If we could know beyond today
As God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away
And tears must flow;
And why the darkness leads to light,
Why dreary paths will soon grow bright;
Some day life’s wrongs will be made right,
Faith tells us so.
“If we could see, if we could know,”
We often say,
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way;
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more,
He leads us till this life is o’er;
Trust and obey.

The Transfiguration Of Christ

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We Can See Glory Coming Upon Our Lord Jesus

From: cbn.com

For now, the calendar causes me to think about the Transfiguration and its prominence. My trusty old Church Calendar places the commemoration of the Transfiguration at last Tuesday, August 6th. Our nervous times would benefit from some renewed grasp of the beauty and awesomeness of that day in Christs glorious and earth-shaking life, and I hope a discussion will improve our focus.

My latest study began in the first 13 verses of Matthew 17 and benefited as expected from the accounts in Luke 9:28-36 and Mark 9:2-13. And then, of all things, I quickly remembered the ludicrous effort of a pastor I encountered some time back to preach about the Transfiguration. A nice man, and educated (in the wrong things, obviously), he was outright silly (in my opinion, of course) in “explaining away” the Bibles accounts of miraculous events, which cant be done if you read the Bible as the Word of God. But this weeks remembrance of his feeble attempts truly drove home the deep truth of this important section of Holy Scripture, which is the revelation of the glory of the Son of God, a glory hidden now but to be fully revealed when He returns.

According to The New International Dictionary of the Bible, the name Transfiguration is derived from a Latin term meaning, “to change into another form.” The accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke portray the transformation as outwardly visible and consisting in an actual physical change in the body of Jesus.

“The appearance of His face changed” (Luke 9:29, NIV), “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2), while “His clothes became dazzling white” (Mark 9:3). The three apostles accompanying Jesus Peter, James, and John testified that the glory was not caused by the falling of a heavenly light on him from without but by the flashing forth of the radiant splendor within. He had passed into a higher state of existence, His body assuming properties of the resurrection body.

Remember, beloved, this was the Son of God, not some earthly creature dispatched on a mission. He wasnt like everybody else; He conversed openly with such Old Testament guys as Moses and Elijah.

The rendezvous was held at a place simply identified as “a high mountain” (Mark 9:2). Tradition has identified it with Mount Tabor, but because of its distance from Caesara Philippi and the fortification on it at that time, a spur of Mount Hermon seems more probable, according to the New International Dictionary. Jebel Jermuk has also been suggested.

Sometimes its hard to think in these terms since, after all, this was the Son of God (God Himself) but this whole experience gave encouragement to Jesus, who was setting His face to the Cross. To the shocked disciples, it confirmed the necessity of the Cross, since all the accounts told of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus speaking of Christs “departure” as well as the divine endorsement on Christs teaching. It inseparably linked the suffering with the glory and crowned with glory the perfect human life of Jesus.

In effect, this was an entry for Jesus into the glory in which He would reign. It constituted, one might say, a typical manifestation of the king coming into His kingdom.

Yes, good folks, the mountains were terribly significant and important to our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us bow down before Him! Amen.

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How we come to see God—and ourselves—rightly

Throughout recorded history, mountains have always engendered a sense of awe, honor, and even mystery in humankind. For believers from every religion (and for the most ardent atheist, too) mountains are places of revelation—whether from God, the gods, Mother Earth, or one’s inner self. The power of these formations jutting from the face of earth is so universal that we reserve a special phrase for moments that are particularly full of import and impact: the “mountaintop experience.”

“The power of these formations jutting from the face of earth is so universal that we reserve a special
phrase for moments that are particularly full of import and impact: the ‘mountaintop experience.’”

This sort of experience isn’t limited to modern-day life, of course. In fact, many of the most significant events in Israel’s history happened on the heights of literal mountains: Think of Mount Ararat, where Noah’s ark landed; or Moriah, where Abraham offered Isaac; or Sinai, where God revealed Himself to Moses. Or consider the life of Jesus—the Son of God and many times the creator of powerful, ecstatic, even mystical experiences. It’s no accident that at the beginning, middle, and end of His ministry, mountains play a crucial role. And every time, they reveal more about who He is.

The first great teaching of the New Testament takes place on one and is appropriately called the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5-7), where Jesus shows Himself to be the truest and fullest revelation of God. As His enemies’ opposition increases and He heads toward Jerusalem to die, we read the story about the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8). Jesus takes His closest friends to a high place, and there they see Him in radiant glory, talking with none other than Moses and Elijah. And finally, Jesus’ last teaching before His arrest and crucifixion—an explanation of the future of the world—happens on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Matt. 24-25).

My family spent several summers in Colorado, and we’d often drive from Fort Collins, following the snaking path of the Big Thompson River until we reached Estes Park. Ears popped as we arrived in this little town 7,522 feet above sea level. But that was only the beginning, as Estes Park is the entry point into the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove our van, filled with two adults and six kids, far up into the Rockies, winding along near the edge of narrow mountain roads, pulling off to play in the snow still there in June. No matter how many times we made this drive, we were all in absolute awe of the vistas on every side.

“God gives us these mountaintop experiences in the Bible and in life so we have direction, a lodestar
by which to navigate and shape our course.”

Whether in Palestine or in Colorado, in the ancient world or today, mountain views take our breath away, wake us up, and give us something unique. Vistas give us vision. From physical heights, we can see farther and clearer. The same is true of spiritual heights. God gives us these mountaintop experiences in the Bible and in life so we have direction, a lodestar by which to navigate and shape our course. We need a panoramic view in order to know how to direct the desires and decisions of our lives toward God and His goodness. But we also need valleys.

Valleys, not just vistas, are places where we see God. Herein lies a paradox at the heart of Christianity. Mountaintop experiences help us chart our course, but deep valley experiences help us know God and ourselves most profoundly. When we are broken, helpless, in dark and low places, we come to see in a different way. The Puritans called this startling experience “the valley of vision.” The Scriptures are filled with examples of this puzzling truth.

In the Old Testament, we can point to many people who knew this valley of vision. One example comes from the prayer that Jonah uttered when he was in the belly of the great fish—a place far lower even than an earthly valley (Jonah 2:1-9). Topside, Jonah was rebellious and running his own way. When he found himself at “the roots of the mountains” (Jonah 2:6), with seaweed wrapped about his head, he saw God and His kindness clearly. Or consider Job, a man who knew God well but, after his deep valley of physical and emotional pain, came to see God unlike ever before. Referring to the time before his valley, Job told God, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,” but afterwards he said, “My eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

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Our Example to Follow

Greg Laurie, crosswalk.com

Our Example to Follow

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. – (Mark 9:2–3 NKJV)

The miracle of the Transfiguration wasn’t that Jesus shined like the sun; the miracle was that He didn’t shine like the sun all the time. When Jesus came to Earth, He never gave up His deity. But we might say that He shrouded His glory and laid aside the privileges of His deity.

Jesus Christ is God. He is a member of the Trinity, coequal and coeternal with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was God before He was born, and He remained God after He became man. His deity was prehuman, pre-Mary, and pre-Bethlehem.

Jesus laid aside not His deity, but the privileges of deity, to model what it is to be a servant. Paul told the believers in Philippi, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5–7).

We are to follow His example. If Jesus could lay aside the privileges of divinity, then how much more should we, as human beings with sinful hearts, be willing to put the needs of others above ourselves?

This isn’t easy. In fact, we could say that it’s virtually impossible—apart from the power of the Spirit. This is not so much about imitation as much as it is about impartation—Christ Himself living in us and giving us His love and power. It’s the only way we can put the needs of another person above our own, love people whom we really don’t like all that much, or effectively die to ourselves. It seems impossible. But this is the way God has called us to live.

Peter: An Unlikely Hero of Faith

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Peter: An Unlikely Hero of Faith

He was a relatively successful businessman — a tradesman, heartily plying his craft with a small fleet of fishing boats that he shared with his brother and his friends. He knew the sea, his boats, his friends, his family — and as a God-fearing Jewish man, he knew his religion. But religion was more for the formative years. It was for his wife and his children. It’s not that he didn’t believe, but he was a busy man, trying to earn an honest living and put bread on the table.

He was well-respected among his peers. He was tough. He was wise to the ways of the world. He was no nonsense. He called it the way he saw it — no frills, no pretense, no foolishness. He was the kind of man who would fish all night to bring in a catch.

So when this man called Jesus arrived in his hometown of Capernaum on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Peter paid little attention to all the chatter about the young religious teacher.

But that all changed when Jesus decided to teach the multitude at the edge of the sea.

It had been another difficult, exhausting night for Peter, his brother Andrew, and their friends James and John. Even with all of the years of experience, and the tricks of the trade, sometimes you come up empty-handed. Peter was tired and frustrated, and the crowd pressing around them as they cleaned their nets was making him furious. The nets needed to be stowed away, and he wanted to hurry home to get some sleep.

Suddenly Jesus called to him, “Simon, I’m going to jump into your boat. Push me out a little way so that I can speak to the crowd.”

“Oh great,” Simon thought, “I’m going to have to wait until he’s done preaching before I can go home.” Now he was boiling with frustration. But he had no choice. The entire town had gathered to hear this rabbi. How would he look to his friends if he refused? Reluctantly he pushed the boat out into deeper water.

Jesus stood up in the boat and began teaching the crowd. Peter tried to ignore him as he continued tidying up the boat, but even through his frustration the words spoken by this young man captured his attention. His teaching was not pompous and full of religious pleasantries like other teachers of the law. The words of Jesus were simple, straight to the point, and practical.

Simon kept working on the nets, but Jesus now had his ear.

Jesus had captured Peter’s attention, but now he was ready to capture his heart. When he finished his sermon he called to Peter, “Simon, take your boat out into the deeper water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Peter had just finished stowing away his neatly-folded nets. The impromptu religious service was over. The boat was tidy. It was time to go home for a few hours of sleep. Who did this teacher think he was talking to, anyway? The fish weren’t cooperating.

Standing chest-deep in the water next to his boat Simon paused for a moment to asses the situation. He didn’t want to be rude. After all, this was an impressive teacher of the law. Looking up at Jesus he responded with a slight laugh, “Master, we have fished all night and caught nothing.”

He paused and waited for Jesus to respond. Surely he would yield to the wisdom of a seasoned fisherman. But Jesus didn’t bat an eye. He simply smiled and waited for Peter to enter the world of wonder that lay before him.

The seafarer looked around for support from his partners, but their raised eyebrows and puzzled looks provided no way of escape for him. The whole town stood on the muddy shoreline waiting for his response. Again he laughed and turned his face toward Jesus. Slowly the words slipped passed his lips, “But at your word, we’ll let down our nets.”

Though they were exhausted, the small band smiled as they climbed into the boats and pushed out to sea — destined to begin an adventure of faith that would take them beyond their wildest dreams.

Peter knew exactly where he wanted to go; just out far enough to be in the deep water, but not so far that they couldn’t get back to shore quickly when they proved to Jesus who knew more about fishing.

The young rabbi sat silently in the bow of the vessel — a slight smile raised the corners of his mouth as he watched the men methodically carry out their assignments. Peter was particularly gruff as he barked out orders to the other men. He was used to being in charge, and he didn’t like being led where he didn’t want to go, especially when he was tired. “Come on, John, pay attention. Keep the lines tight,” he snarled at the youngest, and most impressionable of the group.

At the count of three they heaved the nets into the turquoise-colored water. Immediately the nets churned with activity. Across the surface of the sea, silver-bellied fish slithered over each other in a frenzied dance. Instinct took over and Peter hollered, “Bring it in, bring it in.” The men snapped into action, the muscles in their arms and legs straining as they pulled thousands of glimmering fish into the boats. The weight of the catch was so massive that the nets themselves began to break.

Jesus joined in the laughter as he watched the men fill both of the vessels so full of fish that they began sinking. “Bail some of the catch, quickly,” Peter hollered to his mates.

As the fish writhed and hopped in the bottom of the boat Jesus stood and grabbed hold of the mainsail. Suddenly the reality of the situation struck Peter and he shuddered. This was certainly not a normal catch, and this man now standing above him, his long hair whipping in the Galilean wind was no ordinary man. Peter stopped and looked up at Jesus. It was as if this teacher could see right through him. He felt almost naked before him, like Jesus was able to read his thoughts and see every wicked thing he had ever done.

This Jesus was truly a man sent from God.

Peter lost the strength in his legs and fell down to his knees among the fish at Jesus’ feet. Unable to raise his eyes to meet the gaze of this man of power Peter declared in a quivering voice, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” The others stopped their activity and watched the drama unfold. With a look of gentleness and compassion Jesus leaned over and put his hand on the back of Peter’s neck. Trembling, the fisherman looked up into his eyes through tears as Jesus declared, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be a fisher of men.”

Peter didn’t know exactly what he meant by this, but he did know that his life would never be the same. When Jesus gave him the command to follow him he did so without hesitation. It was the beginning of an odyssey with Christ that would challenge and perplex him; that would take him to the dizzying heights of transfiguration and miraculous power, and the grinding depths of betrayal and bewilderment.

And along the way, Jesus would provide one opportunity after another for this outspoken born-leader to be tested, and tried, and to be sifted like wheat. But in the end, Jesus would establish Peter as an Apostle of Faith. And on the day of Pentecost, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter would shake himself loose from the coils of his ordinary life, and live an extraordinary existence that would turn the ancient world upside down!

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Peter and the Revelation

~

We find this passage in Matthew 16:13-20 (NASB):

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?'”

“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'”

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.'”

“Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.”

We see here that Jesus had led his disciples north from the predominantly Jewish territory, more than likely to escape the crowds and to spend time privately with his disciples. They have journeyed some twenty-five miles (and seventeen hundred feet uphill) from the Lake of Galilee to the source of the Jordan River near the ancient city of Dan. This was the northern boundary of ancient Israel.

The area had only recently been renamed Caesarea Philippi, and it was the most paganized territory in Israel. It was famous for its grotto where people worshiped the Greek god Pan.

Jesus is not swayed by the paganism of the territory — in fact, he doesn’t even mention it. By leading his disciples to this place, we can see the theme of Jesus’ universal mission in his Gospel. This fits in to the overall message behind this interaction with Simon Peter: that Jesus is the Christ and the time had come for Him to be revealed to the world outside of Judaism – first by His death and resurrection. Then, as the Great Commission of Matthew 28 declares, He is to be revealed by the witness of these followers going into the whole world to make other disciples.

The Matthew 16 passage is a kind of “final test” for the disciples under Jesus’ tutelage. Like all students, the disciples had to pass the final exam before they were sent out into the world. Jesus had trained his followers to teach others, and therefore it was highly important that they should understand the truth themselves.

Jesus gathers his disciples on the side of this small mountain and asks the key question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Peter once again takes his role as the spokesman for the group: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Since the early part of his ministry, Jesus had avoided the word Messiah or Christ because of its political meaning to the people. But now Peter plainly calls Jesus the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of the God, the Living One.

This great confession of Peter shows that he and the other disciples believe in Jesus as the Messiah and are still true to him in spite of the defection of many of the other disciples. The inner circle of disciples express their conviction in the Messiahship or Christhood of Jesus as opposed to the divided opinions of the populace.

Far from correcting or rebuking Peter for his declaration, Jesus blesses him and accepts the confession as true. Thereby Jesus solemnly claims to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God — He reveals His deity at this crucial moment.

Jesus declares to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church…” (verses 17-18)

The question that is raised from this passage is, “Who is the rock that Jesus is referring to?”

Theologians provide three main interpretations:

  • Peter is the rock;
  • Jesus is the rock;
  • The revelation that Peter receives is the rock

From the Greek we can see the meaning behind the verse. Jesus declares, “You are Petros,” which means ‘small pebble,’ “and on this Petra,” which means ‘rock’ or ‘boulder,’ “I will build my Church.”

Jesus is not saying that Peter is “the rock.” He calls him the “small pebble.” And He is not pointing to Himself in this passage, though in other parts of the Bible we see Jesus referred to as “the rock.” But in this passage, Jesus is declaring that His church will be built on “the rock of revelation” from above; that is, the revelation from God in heaven about the true identity of Jesus as the Christ.

It is by revelation through the Holy Spirit that we come to know that Jesus is, in fact, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This brings us to the point of repentance and opens the doors for us to become born again as children of God. It is through this divine interaction that each of us become Christians — and thus we are part of the Church that Jesus is building.

Later the Apostle Peter would write to the Church, “…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 NASB)

It is likely that Peter was looking back on this intimate moment with Jesus when he declared that every believer is “small stone” that is being fit together into the Church that Christ is building!

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that ministers must be examined before they be sent forth, especially concerning their sentiments toward Christ, and who they say that he is; for how can they be owned as ministers of Christ, that are either ignorant or erroneous concerning Christ? “This is a question every one of us should be putting to ourselves, “Who do we say, what kind of one do we say, that the Lord Jesus is?

Henry also points out that Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually – another element of his leadership style. “From that time, when the apostles had made the full confession of Christ, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of his sufferings. He spoke this to set right the mistakes of his disciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Those that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ’s love and patience by our own.”

This discourse provides a major turning point in the Gospel of Matthew. The confession and rebuke of Peter is placed just before the transfiguration of Jesus in chapter 17, indicating the end of Jesus’ Galilean Ministry and beginning of His journey to Jerusalem, and the march to his death and resurrection — the gateway to the birth of the Church!

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Streams in the Desert – July 27

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Prove me now (Malachi 3:10).

What is God saying here but this: “My child, I still have windows in Heaven. They are yet in service. The bolts slide as easily as of old. The hinges have not grown rusty. I would rather fling them open, and pour forth, than keep them shut, and hold back. I opened them for Moses, and the sea parted. I opened them for Joshua, and Jordan rolled back. I opened them for Gideon, and hosts fled. I will open them for you–if you will only let Me.

On this side of the windows, Heaven is the same rich storehouse as of old. The fountains and streams still overflow. The treasure rooms are still bursting with gifts. The lack is not on my side. It is on yours. I am waiting. Prove Me now. Fulfill the conditions, on your part. Bring in the tithes. Give Me a chance.
–Selected

I can never forget my mother’s very brief paraphrase of Malachi 3:10. The verse begins, “Bring ye the whole tithe in,” and it ends up with “I will pour” the blessing out till you’ll be embarrassed for space. Her paraphrase was this: Give all He asks; take all He promises.”
–S. D. Gordon

The ability of God is beyond our prayers, beyond our largest prayers! I have been thinking of some of the petitions that have entered into my supplication innumerable times. What have I asked for? I have asked for a cupful, and the ocean remains! I have asked for a sunbeam, and the sun abides! My best asking falls immeasurably short of my Father’s giving: it is beyond that we can ask.
–J. H. Jowett

I Am The Lord Who Heals You

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Fear Not, Believe Only

Luke 8 tells the story of the woman with an issue of blood. It’s popular for Sunday School lessons and in pulpits across America. We all know the story.

Luke 8:43 begins with Jesus being thronged by a crowd of people.

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind Him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.” (KJV)

She was healed with just one touch of Jesus’ garment! This passage alone launched a thousand sermons and songs about God’s wonderful, merciful healing power. It still amazes us today how a simple act of humility and faith changed a woman’s life forever.

But, I’m not here to talk about the woman with an issue of blood. I want to talk about a man named Jairus.

Let’s back up to Luke 8:41.

“There came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought Him that He would come into his house: For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.”

Jairus was obviously a man on the edge. In spite of his lofty position, he fell at the feet of a carpenter’s Son in utter despair over his daughter. He finally had the Master’s attention and almost got Him back to his house. But then…

This woman came out of nowhere and caused a big scene. Jesus stopped to talk to her. They had a whole conversation right there. While Jairus waited on the Lord, a servant from his house found him and said,

“’Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master’” (Luke 8:49).

Here Jairus was in dire need of a miracle, and he was so close to getting that blessing. And, not only does someone sneak in and steal Jesus’ time, but his window of opportunity closed.

I bet you can identify with Jairus. We have all waited on God and have seen others step ahead of us in line. It can feel like our blessing completely passed us by while God was busy doing something else.

I know I have felt like Jairus before. Years ago, I petitioned God for a husband. I fasted and prayed with the utmost faith that I would find real love.

I did not, but my roommate did — and so did the roommate after her. I’ll never forget the empty feeling I had as I watched friend after friend meet their respective Prince Charmings, fall in love, move out and move on.

I don’t know what Jairus thought, but I had a tough time not questioning God. “Uh, Lord, I’m happy for all these girls, but this isn’t fair. I’ve been here the whole time. Have You forgotten about me?”

Lucky for us all, God knows our hearts. Even though Jesus stopped to bless another, He didn’t forget about Jairus.

Jesus heard what the servant had to say and told Jairus in Luke 8:50,

“’Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.”

I like to think that if this were occurring in our modern-day, Jesus would have said, “Don’t panic.”

That’s our first reaction after all. When we think that we have missed our chance, we freak out, go into mourning or sulk into bitterness. But that’s not always necessary.

Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. Hold on to your faith, and you’ll have what you ask for.”

Eventually, Jesus made His way to Jairus’ house. In the midst of the wailers and mourners, He said rather calmly, “

Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth… Maid, arise” (Luke 8:52Luke 8:54b).

I love that. It is so easy to think that our dream is dead when it may only be sleeping. With one word from Christ, it can rise again.

I don’t know what you are facing today, but at times we all find ourselves in Jairus’ place. Whether you feel passed over or completely ignored, I encourage you today to not give up.

You’re never an afterthought to the Prince of Peace. He knows all, sees all, and is touched with the things that trouble you. He knows your suffering and how it hurts sometimes to wait. However, He is on His way to your house to take the remains of your dream and resurrect it.

Just have faith. “Fear not, believe only.”

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What Can We Learn from the Woman with the Issue of Blood?

Jennifer Heeren, Crosswalk.com

Scripture Quotes about the Woman with the Issue of Blood

The woman with the issue of blood is mentioned in three of the gospels—Mark, Luke, and Matthew.

Mark 5:25-34 is the longest passage about her.

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Luke 8:43-48 accounts for the same story but adds something notable.

When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Luke notes that the whole crowd heard her explaining to Jesus why she had touched him. Sometimes our acts of faith need to be shared with many other people. The more acts of faith I see, the more I am likely to step out myself.

Matthew 9:20-22 is the shortest account of her story.

Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Matthew seemed to think that the healing happened after Jesus blessed the woman, whereas Mark and Luke wrote that the healing happened as soon as she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. Maybe this discrepancy was simply because Matthew hadn’t paid enough attention to this miracle. Of course, he did realize the most important part. The woman was healed.

I can easily miss seeing miracles too, simply because I’m busy or I’m not paying enough attention or my focus has been drawn elsewhere.

What Can We Know about Her Disorder?

According to the law (Leviticus 15:25-27), excessive blood flow made a woman ceremonially unclean. Any furniture she touched was unclean as well. If other people touched anything that she had touched, they would be unclean as well.

This woman was very alone. No one would have wanted to be around her. She couldn’t go out in public. She couldn’t be hugged by her family. Twelve years is a long time to be quarantined from all people!

Not only was she considered unclean, but she probably felt it as well, having to deal with the logistics of trying to have clean clothes and linens for twelve years.

She had tried to get well. She had gone to many doctors over the years. She spent everything she had trying to be cured. According to William Barclay’s commentary, the Talmud gave at least eleven possible cures for her ailment. I’m sure that this poor woman had tried all of them. But, nothing worked and she even got worse!

She was tired, worn out, and intensely lonely. But she was also desperate, which can be a very good thing. Desperation keeps complacency and self-pity away.

What Can We Learn from the Woman with the Issue of Blood?

She was desperate for healing. So much so that she didn’t worry about what other people would think or at least she didn’t let her worries stop her. She also had great hope that Jesus’ power could heal her. Faith and determination are of great worth in the Lord’s sight. For without faith, it is impossible to please God. Know who he is and come boldly with any request you have. Jesus isn’t afraid of the supposed uncleanliness that disease may bring. People with physical ailments need help and mercy, not isolation and condemnation.

Jesus didn’t have to acknowledge the woman. Her faith to touch the hem of his garment was enough to heal her. It seems that he wanted to look her in the eye, not to yell at her for bothering him, but to see the beautiful, genuine faith emanating from her heart. He wanted to acknowledge that she didn’t have to suffer anymore. She was free. Physical healings don’t always happen but sometimes they do. So ask and keep on asking with the faith and determination of the dear woman in this story. But even when there isn’t physical healing, there will always be healing of your heart and soul when you repent of doing things your way and thank God for making a way for your sin, shame, and pride to be completely covered. You can be free. He will say, “Daughter (or Son), your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

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Raising of Jairus’ Daughter

(Luke 8:40-42, 49-56)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, jesuswalk.com

Text

Luke 8: 40-42, 49-56

[40] Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. [41] Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house [42] because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him….

[49] While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

[50] Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

[51] When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. [52] Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

[53] They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. [54] But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” [55] Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. [56] Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

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Who Touched Me?

I was reading about a missionary who was ministering in a church in Mexico when a young girl came forward for prayer. She said that she had a ball-shaped tumor behind her ear. She had not gone to a doctor because she was afraid of the diagnosis. The missionary asked her if she could feel the tumor now and she said that she could. As they prayed, the missionary saw a vision of the young girl taking the tumor and throwing it to God, which she felt symbolized giving it to Him.

So, she asked the young girl to do just that as an act of faith in God healing her. The girl acted out taking the tumor from her head and throwing it to God. This action of her faith released joy and peace in the situation. After a little more prayer, the girl felt for the tumor and it was gone! She could not feel it. The missionary checked on the girl several more times during the trip and the tumor had not returned. It was gone!

The Bible tells the story of a woman who had constant bleeding for 12 years and could not find a cure. She came behind Jesus in the crowd and touched his garment and immediately she was healed.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Luke 8:45 (NLT)

Everyone denied touching him but he said that someone had deliberately touched him because he felt the healing power come out of him. The woman came forward and the whole crowd heard her explain her situation. She confessed that she was the one who had touched the hem of his garment and that she was immediately healed. Jesus spoke to her and said,

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48 (NLT)

Some may ask why doesn’t Jesus just heal everyone in the world who is sick? Doesn’t he recognize the need? He does. By his death on the cross, our healing was provided for in the atonement. So then, the healing doesn’t come based on our need, it comes based on our faith!

“But I had faith and I wasn’t healed,” some may say. I know. When it does and when it doesn’t happen can be mysterious and controversial.

Remember that Jesus taught us to have faith like a grain of mustard seed, the smallest of seeds which grows into a large plant. Our faith does grow, especially as we see his touch in our lives and in the lives of others.

Like the woman in the crowd, when we reach out and touch Jesus by faith, his healing comes to us. It’s not enough to believe he can heal. We must believe that he will heal us when by faith we reach out and touch him.

The 700 Club reports on a viewer, Judy Snipes, who suffered from severe pain and headaches for years. Hosts Terry Meeuwsen and Gordon Robertson had words of knowledge from the Lord that pertained to her healing. Judy knew that God spoke to her for healing and by faith claimed it as her own. She was instantly healed and continued to be pain-free from that day forward.

The Bible teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, we cannot receive the miracles that God has for each and every one of us.

Whatever your need, reach out and give Jesus the reason to say, “Who touched me?”

Grief-stricken Jairus’ Request (8:40-42)

“Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.” (8:41-42)

But now this highly respected citizen of Capernaum (for that is where we assume this took place) comes up to Jesus in the multitude of pushing and shoving individuals. They make way for him out of respect, but he is not there to pay his respects to the rabbi. He has been the one responsible for inviting Jesus to participate in the synagogue services since Jesus has taken up residence in Capernaum. But he doesn’t come to greet an old friend.

His face is ashen, his hands tremble, and when he finally reaches the Master he falls upon his knees before Jesus. The Greek word in Luke’s and Mark’s accounts is pipto, ” ‘fall down, throw oneself to the ground’ as a sign of devotion, before high ranking persons or divine beings, especially when one approaches with a petition.”[4] Matthew uses the more specific word proskuneo, “(fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully.”[5] I see his head bowed, his shoulders trembling with emotion. Here is a paradoxical scene: the well-to-do synagogue president utterly humbling himself before the simply-dressed Jesus. He has been waiting for Jesus to return — hoping he would return in time, and now his is here. Jesus is Jairus’ last hope.

Mark records Jairus’ plea: “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” (Mark 5:23). Jairus is on his knees “pleading” with Jesus. The Greek word is parakaleo, which is variously translated, depending upon the context. Here it means, “request, implore, appeal to, entreat.”[6] Please come! Please! So Jesus goes with him.

Have you been where Jairus is? Desperate? Exhausted with worry? Sick with concern? This isn’t just a daughter, one of a dozen children. Luke tells us that this is “an only daughter” (Greek monogenes). You get the idea that she is the apple of her father’s eye — “Daddy’s girl.” And now she lies near death. She is twelve years old. We would consider her a child; I’m sure Jairus still did. But girls were considered adults at twelve, and boys not until thirteen.[7] She was of marriageable age, and yet she lies at the point of death. Jairus is grief-stricken.

You can probably identify with Jairus. Perhaps you’ve been where he is. But now step back for a moment, oh disciple, and consider his faith. What is the condition of his faith? He has heard the report that Jesus’ boat is coming, and so he has left his daughter’s side and gone down to the beach to see Jesus as soon as he lands — he and hundreds of others. From his words in Mark he seems to believe: “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” (Mark 5:23). He believes that if Jesus will just touch the girl, she will be healed and live. The centurion knew that Jesus didn’t even need to be present to heal, just to speak the word (7:7). The hemorrhaging woman had faith that if she could touch even the fringe of his cloak, she would be healed (Mark 5:28). But Jairus is staking his faith on a touch from Jesus’ hand to pull his daughter back from the brink of death.

Jesus consents, and begins to move toward Jairus’ home across town. But the crowd is so overwhelming that it is difficult to move at all, much less make rapid progress. Then, on the way, a woman touches him for healing, causing Jesus and the entire crowd to stop and listen to her story. Jairus hopes they will not arrive too late.

Spiritual Warfare

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Spiritual Warfare

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state]…And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always] (Colossians 3:15).

You are waging spiritual warfare when you give radical praise to God in the midst of your need and lack. When you are thankful to God for all He has done and is doing, you are defeating the enemy. When you hold your peace in the midst of the storm, you are warring with spiritual weapons (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you…[Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled]” (John 14:27). Jesus has given you peace! Put it on, and wear it everywhere you go.

[Earnestly] remember the former things, [which I did] of old; for I am God, and there is no one else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end and the result from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure and purpose (Isaiah 46:9-10).

There may be times when it seems that you cannot go forward, but at least you do not have to go backward. You may not know how to forge ahead, but you can stand firmly on what you know of God.

Instead of passively yielding to the enemy, you can say, “This is the ground I have gained, and I am not giving it up, devil. You are not driving me back into the hole that God pulled me out of. I am going to stand strong in the power of God until He delivers me.”

Submit Yourself to God

My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him (Psalm 62:5).

James 4:7-8 gives the best advice on how to wage spiritual warfare: “Be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you.”

When you humble yourself in the presence of the Lord, He will exalt you and lift you and make your life significant (see James 4:9-10). God will show you how to resist the devil. Spend time in God’s presence, and do whatever He tells you to do!

Excerpt from Joyce Meyer’s book, Starting Your Day Right. Copyright © Joyce Meyer. Used with permission.

 

Desire God’s Gift Of Peace

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Before Cellphones

My cellphone suddenly crashed and died, and my immediate thought was, What if I have car trouble while I am out?

I reminded myself my trust is in God, not in my phone. God has been rescuing people out of jams long before cellphones came along. I also reminded myself of a favorite verse that has been an encouragement to me in many of life’s uncertain situations:

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

God’s peace washed over me and I tucked my dead cellphone away in my purse. Then I continued with my list of morning errands.

It’s hard to imagine life without phones, but you don’t have to go back that many generations to a time when there was not a telephone in every home. And now, nearly every member of a family has their own cellphone. Times have changed, and this modern convenience has become front and center as we now have the worldwide web at our fingertips everywhere we go.

This generation is growing up with this technology, but my generation did not. When I think back to life before cellphones, I am reminded of a time when I was much younger, when I would have loved to have had a cellphone!

It was the winter of 1981 and I was in my early 20s. On the way to work, my car skidded on a patch of ice and slid into a snowy ditch in Lexington, KY. I stepped out of my car into a bank of snow at least a foot deep, and I did not have boots on. I still remember that very cold experience. I felt helpless and alone after I climbed out of my car, stood in that cold and deep snow, and realized I was not going to be able to just back my car out of that ditch. I needed help.

God graciously took care of me in that moment of need. I didn’t stand there long before a pickup truck pulled up. Two middle-aged men who were carpooling together and said they worked at IBM, offered to give me a ride to work. It just so happened that I worked right across the street from IBM and had peace about accepting this short ride from them. Once I was at work, some nice people I worked with went out, got my car, and towed it to a tire place. As it turned out, my tires were practically bald. I was a single girl, living alone, who knew nothing about tire maintenance and now had a brand new set of tires to keep me from skidding off icy roads for the rest of the winter. I was rescued and my car trouble was remedied, all without the aid of a cellphone. God doesn’t need one to do what He does!

This life event taught me to always remember to trust in God to take care of me. My life is in His hands and this is where my security lies. He can take care of me whether my cellphone is working or not!

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. (Psalm 36:7 NKJV)

All That Is in the World

From: InTouch ministries

1 John 2:15-17John warns us not to love the world or the things in it. But what is the world? The apostle isn’t talking about the material realm, so there’s no need to deprive ourselves of everything we enjoy in life. Rather, he is reminding us that every good desire can be perverted by sinful longings and pride.

The nature of the world system is seen in the behaviors, attitudes, and ambitions of our culture:

Immorality. Our society seeks to gratify lust in ways that God has forbidden. Immorality has even entered our homes through the internet and television.

Greed. The culture is driven by a desire for wealth, material possessions, fame, and power—and some people lie, cheat, steal, or kill to get what they want.

Pride. People are lovers of self and want to be seen as better than others. It’s common today to portray oneself falsely on social media in order to be admired.

Despite the sinful condition of our culture, we shouldn’t be discouraged. God is greater than the world’s power to entice, and His purposes aren’t thwarted by sin. He is able to guide us through the darkness as we trust and follow Him.

 

You Are Loved and Not Forgotten

ARLENE PELLICANE, author, crosswalk.com

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

Years ago, my mom was traveling next to a woman who was wrestling with a pie. The lady was trying to take out her work things and get settled while not upending the pie she held in her lap.

My mom offered to hold the pie, and soon a friendship was born. Turns out, the pie was a gift from the woman’s mother. My mom and her new friend, Karen, chatted for much of their flight and exchanged phone numbers. From that day on, Karen often joined us for family meals and celebrations. I even interned for a year at Karen’s workplace as a public relations assistant.

I don’t think my mom meeting Karen on that airplane was an accident, coincidence or good luck. These words imply randomness and chance. Our Heavenly Father is a God of divine order and planning. God never rolls the dice or crosses His fingers, hoping for the best. He spoke the world into existence!

I believe God arranged for the airplane meetup with that pie as the connector. Today’s key verse, Psalm 37:23, says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.”

What delightful thing might God be arranging for you today?

Maybe you’ll meet someone new this week who really needs a friend like you. Maybe you’re wondering where your rent payment will come from, and an unexpected check arrives in the mail. Maybe you’ll write a kind letter to your best friend, lifting her spirit and yours.

Now just because there’s divine order in your life doesn’t mean you won’t encounter difficulty and disappointment.

Right after the key verse, the psalmist David writes, Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:24-25, NKJV).

Falls in life are inevitable but not irreversible. God has a grand plan not just for individuals, but for generations.

My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier this year. We were supposed to take a family vacation to celebrate this milestone. But like many of us, our plans were changed by COVID-19. We stayed home and didn’t see each other. But you know what? Our steps are still divinely ordered. We know all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Who knows? Maybe God has something even better planned.

Our lives are not haphazard. We are not victims of chance, chaos, tough luck or bad timing. We can live in peace even in troubled times because our days are ordered by an Almighty God who loves us. The more you get to know God, the sweeter and sweeter your relationship with Him will become. His plans for you are good. You are loved and not forgotten. He knows exactly where you are and will continue to be the architect of your divinely ordered life.

 

Believing is Seeing

From: Streams In The Desert

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalms 106:12-15).

We read of Moses, that “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Exactly the opposite was true of the children of Israel in this record. They endured only when the circumstances were favorable; they were largely governed by the things that appealed to their senses, in place of resting in the invisible and eternal God.

In the present day there are those who live intermittent Christian lives because they have become occupied with the outward, and center in circumstances, in place of centering in God. God wants us more and more to see Him in everything, and to call nothing small if it bears us His message.

Here we read of the children of Israel, “Then they believed his words.” They did not believe till after they saw–when they saw Him work, then they believed. They really doubted God when they came to the Red Sea; but when God opened the way and led them across and they saw Pharaoh and his host drowned–“then they believed.” They led an up and down life because of this kind of faith; it was a faith that depended upon circumstances. This is not the kind of faith God wants us to have.

The world says “seeing is believing,” but God wants us to believe in order to see. The Psalmist said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favorable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be?
–C. H. P.

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
–St. Augustine