Category Archives: Faith

Bartimaeus, stick a sock in it!

jesus_healing_blind.gifWhat do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. (Mark 10:51)

Bartimaeus was the lucky guy to whom this question was addressed. He was blind, a beggar, and when he heard Jesus was passing by he began yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

The crowds tried to quiet him. If it was 2008, security would have tasered him. But he was desperate. No way was he going to let this opportunity slip by.

A blind man in that day was helpless, hopeless, destined to sit by the road and spend his pathetic life begging. Bartimaeus knew this might well be his only hope of rising above his circumstances. He kept yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus turned and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! I’m trying to imagine how that must have felt. Like Bill Gates handing you his ATM card and giving you the PIN number. What is it you need? Take my debit card. There’s enough in the account to cover it. Just take what you need!

What lesson can we take from Bartimaeus today? A couple of things. First, seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It may not come around again. Jesus may never have passed that way again. Bartimaeus knew it may be his one and only hope.

The other lesson? Persistence. Tenacity. Forget the detractors. Don’t listen to those who try to hold you back, hold you down.

If there is something you want, if you have a dream, a vision, go after it with your whole heart. Make no room for discouragement. Put away doubt. Cling to hope. Strengthen your faith. Then be ready to hear the words of Jesus:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He’s still asking that question today of those who cry to him with their whole heart!

Hidden between the lines

desert2.jpgThe whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sinai, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1

Discovered this little passage a while back. It’s the kind of verse I would  normally fly right over the top of. But something between the lines caught my eye.

It seems to be saying that sometimes, God intentionally leads us into dry places. Look at the context. The Israelites were following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and it led them to a place where there was no water.

I’m not sure about you, but in my life, I have times I feel close to God. Other times, He’s light years away.

I love it when my time of devotions is sweet. God is speaking to me, encouraging me, giving me direction. I feel His presence in my prayer life.

But other times, just to be honest, I’m dry inside. Devotions are tedious. Prayer is laborious. Your time with the Lord is about as exciting as kissing your sister. (Sorry about that, Carolyn!)

Usually in the dry times, I blame myself. It’s my fault. I must be crowding God out of my life. He’s displeased with me for something I’ve done.  

But could it be that, like way back then, He is leading us into a place where there is no water?

See, it’s easy to live victoriously when everything is going well. Our faith soars when we are experiencing the blessings of God, when He is answering our prayers.

But during the dry times, all we have to hold on to is our faith. But the faith that really pleases God is the faith that remains strong when nothing is going right, when God is a universe away.

True faith evidences itself in the realm of the unseen.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I don’t like the dry times but I have come to learn that in those times, God is often doing His greatest work in my life. And if I will remain strong in my faith, well, like in the days of the Children of Israel, a major gush is just about to happen.

Wanted: Dead or Alive. Preferably Dead!

As Saul and his men began to close in, David tried his best to escape, but it was no use. But just then, a messenger reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again, so Saul quit the chase and returned to fight the Philistines. 1 Samuel 23:26-28

Who said God has no sense of humor?! I got a chuckle reading this passage today. It is so full of irony.

Think about it. David has two major enemies; the Philistines, who have his picture on every post office bulletin board in the land, and Saul, who sees David as a threat to his throne.

So Saul chases David down and corners him. No way of escape, no place to hide. David is toast.

Then Saul’s cell phone rings. Satellite images show Philistine troops unexpectedly amassing on the Israeli border. Saul has to pull back from his assault on David and return to the Pentagon.

The Philistines actions have unwittingly allowed their arch rival, David, to escape the hand of Saul!

The irony blows me away!

When David was trapped, I’ve got to believe he was praying. “O God, send someone to get me out of this mess! You saved me from the mouth of the bear and from the lion. You spared me from Goliath, the Philistine Giant…”

And I can imagine God saying, “Philistine? Did someone say Philistine? Hmm, I’ve got an idea…” and he uses one of David’s enemies to spare him from the other.

So where are we going with this? What is the message for us today?

When you and I are in trouble, we should never limit the way God can rescue us. He may send help from the least likely place. The last place on earth you are expecting. Just keep trusting Him. You never know how He will come through!

Peter, the lumberjack

Suddenly, there was a light in the cell and an angel of the Lord stood beside Peter! The angel slapped him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick. Get up.” And the chains fell off his wrists. Acts 12:7

The setting was Herod’s maximum security prison. James had been put to death and it pleased the Jewish leaders so Herod arrested Peter and scheduled him for execution the following morning.

He was in chains behind multiple locked doors, guarded by sixteen Roman soldiers.

I’m trying to imagine what was going through Peter’s mind. He must have reflected on the events of recent years. Only four short years ago, he was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, destined, he thought, to be a fisherman for life. Then Jesus said, “Follow me,” and life would never be the same!

Peter remembered the miracles. He remembered walking on water. He remembered Jesus calming the storm, healing his mother, feeding the five thousand.

He vividly remembered the crucifixion and the events leading up to it. How could he forget his betrayal of Christ?

But he also remembered the empty tomb, and Jesus on the seashore after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus returned to the Father.

Now, he is chained between two guards and in the morning, he goes before the firing squad. So what does Peter do? He falls asleep. In fact, he sleeps so soundly, the angel has to whack him on the side to wake him up.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be bagging Zzz’s, not on the night before I’m going to die. If I did doze it would be a light, restless sleep.

Not Peter. He is sawing some serious logs. It wasn’t the angel who shook the prison, it was Peter’s snoring!

Peter had no fear. He was ready to meet Jesus and he decided he might as well have a good nights rest before the reunion!

O Lord, may we have the faith and boldness of Peter, I pray. Amen.

Mustard seed faith

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Mustard Seed Faith

Trust me on this one

trust-jesus.jpgBut Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” Mark 5:36 (LB)

Jairus, the leader of the local synagogue, came to Jesus for help. His twelve year old daughter was at the point of death and she needed a miracle.

It’s interesting Jairus would turn to Jesus. Most synagogue leaders saw Jesus as an adversary. When you think synagogue you think Sabbath. You think Jewish customs and traditions. You remember Sunday morning headlines: Jesus breaks Sabbath!

The Jewish leaders were intent on discrediting Jesus. Sabotaging His ministry. Even plotting His death.

But Jairus was desperate. His daughter was dying. Doctors couldn’t help. There was no medicine, no further treatment. So he swallowed his pride and turned to Jesus.

It must have been humbling. How, he wonders, will Jesus respond? What will Jesus say? “Hey. Don’t I know you? Yeah. You’re the leader of the synagogue. You’re the guy who tried to throw me headlong off a cliff the other day.”

“Who, me? Oh, that’s a guy who looks a lot like me. I get that all the time.” 

But in desperation, he humbly asked Jesus to come and heal his little girl. Forget the past. Forget the differences of theology. He had a problem and only Jesus had the solution.

Thankfully, Jesus responded the way he does with all who turn to him with a broken and contrite heart. In His mercy, He offered to heal the little girl.

But then the text message came through, “It’s too late. The girl is dead.”

Jesus told Jairus, “Ignore it. Put it on vibrate. The girl will live. Trust me on this.”

And Jesus touched the girl and she sprang to her feet, alive and well.

So, what is the application? How does this apply to us today?

There may be things we no longer trust God for. Things we have given up trusting him for. We hear the words, “the girl is dead” and we become discouraged and give up.

Today, Jesus is saying, “Ignore the detractors. Don’t believe the circumstances. Things are not always as they appear. Trust me on this one.” 

O God, forgive us for the times our faith has wavered. Forgive us for our lack of trust. You have always proven yourself faithful and you will continue to be faithful until the end. Amen.

Some things you can do today:

  1. Think of something in your life that has died; a dream, a goal. Now ask God to renew your vision and restore it to life.
  2. Begin to trust Him for the answer. Don’t focus on the circumstances – they will pull you down. Look to Jesus – He will lift you up.

SOAP

I remember dinnertime when I was a kid. My mom would ask, “Del, did you wash your hands?” Yep! “Did you use soap?” Nope! “Go wash them again and this time, use soap.”

God’s Word is sometimes likened to water. Ephesians 5:26 speaks of his Word washing us like water and cleansing us.

Today, as we continue our discussion on the importance of daily devotions and journaling, I’m going to give you some soap to go along with the water.

I’m talking about an acronym, SOAP. It stands for scripture, observation, application, prayer. It’s a little outline I follow when I journal.

First, write out the Scripture you you are going to journal on. Then, make an Observation about it. What is it in the passage that captured your attention? Now, write the Application. How does the scripture apply to your life? Is it telling you something you need to correct? Is it warning you of a pitfall to avoid? Is it a promise for you to cling to? Finally, write a Prayer. It can be long or short. I’ve written a whole page and I’ve written one line.

The S, O, and A are an opportunity for God to speak to you. The P is your time to respond. And as a parenthetical thought, you’ll see more growth in your Christian walk if you let Him do most of the talking.

So let me share a devotion I wrote in my journal today just to give you the idea.

Scripture: He delivers His people, preserving them from harm; He does great miracles in heaven and earth. Daniel 6:27

Observation: Daniel had just been delivered from the lion’s den. Earlier, King Darius had been tricked into signing a law that forced him to send Daniel, his most trusted advisor, to the den of lions. But God spared Daniel, and upon hearing the good news, the king gave praise and glorified God!

“He delivers His people, preserving them from harm!”

It’s interesting that God did not prevent Daniel from going into the lion’s den, but He protected him while he was there.

Application: Sometimes I feel like I’m in a den of lions. I’m overwhelmed with problems, too big for me to handle. I feel vulnerable, defenseless, like I am about to be swallowed up.

For some reason, I may never understand, God did not prevent me from finding myself in these situations. But today, His Word gives me hope and courage that He will protect me in the midst of them. I need not fear. He is with me.

Prayer: O God, thank you for your Word. It gives me courage and faith to face my toughest trials. I take comfort, knowing you are the same, yesterday, today and forever. What you did for Daniel, you will do for me, as I keep my trust in you. Amen.

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Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to keep from getting sidetracked in your daily devotions when you find yourself in some of those difficult to understand passages. Hope to see you then.