Luke 5:12-26 – Healed & Forgiven

Read Luke 5:12-26

We have many accounts of healing in today’s reading. A few of those are detailed for us. Imagine how in the day without the internet, newspapers, or cell phones that such word about Jesus and his teaching and miracles got around. Jesus was causing a stir, as he should. He was the son of God after all.

So far in Luke’s gospel, we see Jesus as calm and available. I loved the faith of the man with leprosy when he said, “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus was willing and the man was healed. That was a horrible disease, and to be freed from it must have been such a relief. I’m not surprised that he couldn’t keep it to himself.

Despite the throngs of people coming to Jesus, he continued to give and serve. Yet, we are told he did need his quiet time, and I always appreciate hearing that. We all need our quiet time with God. Continue reading “Luke 5:12-26 – Healed & Forgiven”

Luke 1:1-25 – Are You Serious?

Read Luke 1:1-25

As we embark on the Book of Luke, we are just a week away from Christmas. I realize you may be reading this post some time in the future, not necessarily in December, and that’s okay. The Bible is always alive, and we can be “certain of the truth.” The message is always fresh and new.

Luke’s perspective of the birth of Jesus comes from Mary’s perspective, wherein Matthew’s account is from Joseph’s perspective. Today we see how God’s plan for bringing his son into the world actually started with Mary’s relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. God wanted someone (John) on the ground, setting the stage, to prepare the way for his son, the Messiah.

John’s parents were righteous and without children. We are told they were very old. I love when God uses the faithful, especially when it would be unexpected. We get a glimpse here of how priests did their work in those days. Was it by chance that Zechariah was chosen that day to enter the sanctuary? Or, had God been waiting to use that opportunity to make his move?

What was Zechariah’s response? He was “shaken and overwhelmed with fear.” I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing my response would have been much the same. We just don’t see angels every day. While we might hope for an angelic visit and a prophetic word from God, if it actually happened we might be a little afraid. At least a little.

What a message Zechariah heard. Quite unbelievable, I would say. What was running through Zechariah’s head? I’m sure his prayers for a son had ended long ago as they were now old. Now, to hear from God himself that the child you had longed for would be “great in the eyes of the Lord…filled with the Holy Spirit…a man with the spirit and power of Elijah,” all to prepare the people for the coming Lord. What a message! 

I can understand his moment of unbelief. It was all too good to be true. But his hesitation and doubt led to his not being able to speak…for months! That miracle is also incredulous, don’t you think? But what a bold statement God makes here.

God wants us to trust him and his word to be true, too. We should not question it. Even though we may not understand it, the message is from God, and that should be enough. What doubts are you struggling with today?

God can use us all for his purposes. Don’t we have the same assignment John did, to prepare the way for Jesus? It might look a little different, only because Jesus has lived, died and been risen again. Our story has even more dimensions than John’s would of at the time. Are you keeping it to yourself?

We must now prepare people for Jesus’ return. We don’t know when that will be, but we do know we need to be ready. That is what the season of Advent is all about. It’s placed before Christmas in the church liturgical year, but it is really something we should be proclaiming year round.

Advent means “coming” in Latin, so in church circles it is the coming of Christ. He has already come, and we wait for his second coming. I’ve also heard it said Jesus has come three times, once in Bethlehem, once into our hearts, and the last when he returns. Jesus does lives in us through his Holy Spirit, and we are empowered by the Spirit to do great things.

What are you doing for Jesus this day?

Let’s pray. Father, thank you for including me in your story of love and redemption. I marvel at how your plans are always so perfectly orchestrated. May I give you free reign in my life so that you work miracles through me. I don’t know what you have in store for me, but I look forward to each new day with anticipation and expectation. I pray for my children as they walk through life, that they will come to know you and appreciate all that you have done for them. May the wonder of the miracle of Christmas continue to grow in my heart this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Mark 14:32-42 – Wake Up!

Read Mark 14:32-42

None of us can begin to imagine the agony Jesus was feeling in the garden. A different kind of desperation than we’d ever seen. His life on earth was coming to an end, he knew it, and he longed to be close to his Father in  those final moments. A bargain, a pleading, a comfort. The plan was set, yet Jesus laments.

Jesus own words are a good model for us when we cry out in prayer. “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” We shouldn’t want the easy way out, but God’s way for us. We should be on our knees, like Jesus, in our times of trial.

Here’s a beautiful song to listen to to get your heart into this moment.  Realize the beauty that is unfolding here for Jesus and for us.

Listen HERE.

God is in the business of healing broken souls. He does bring hope for this fallen world. He never leaves us. Jesus’ own  disciples, after vowing they would stand by him, could not keep their eyes open. One simple request. Jesus’ last request of them.
He wanted them close. He knew that history was being made and they needed to know how important their lives had become. Their witness would have to be enough. If only they could stay awake!
Are we asleep? Are we not listening to Jesus’ words to us? His request that we love him first, and tell others about him! Our faith needs to rise up like ivy. We need to acknowledge the stirring deep inside.
Our fears are crushed, because Jesus overcame. We are redeemed, because Jesus overcame. We are who we are, because Jesus overcame.
Are we going to stay sleeping?
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for the wake up  call. Thank you for the reminder that we come to you at all times, in times of torment, in times of struggle and in times or rejoicing. You are there. May it be my heart’s desire to  want your will for me and not mine. Your will is perfect. May I not cling to my old life but reach for the new life you are preparing for  me. So much lies ahead, and I want to dream with God-size dreams. Lord, enlarge my reach so that I can serve who you want for me to serve. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Mark 9:14-29 – Stronger Faith

Read Mark 9:14-29

Today’s reading happens directly after yesterday’s in real time. In case you missed yesterday, it’s the story of the transfiguration where Jesus took the inner circle (Peter, James and John) up the mountain where they experienced something miraculous, leaving them a bit awestruck.

We often experience those mountaintop experiences in our lives. Maybe after a wonderful worship service, a spiritual healing, a large worship concert, or conference with other believers. When we come back to reality, the every day routine, re-entry can often be challenging. We don’t want to lose that feeling.

Here, Jesus and the disciples had to assimilate very quickly as there was a crowd waiting. From our readings in Mark, it seems like this is an every day occurrence that people are clamoring for Jesus’ attention with one need or another. It may seem like that still today as we lift our prayers up, asking God for this or for that to make our lives better.

Our prayers should be more than that, shouldn’t they? I read an interesting statement once, and I may have even used this in my marketing. It went something like this:  “What if we woke up tomorrow with ONLY who and what we prayed for today?” That includes God. We need to never forget to whom we are praying.

He is worthy of our praise, and our praise should not be reserved for Sunday mornings. It’s an every day, every minute kind of thing. It should be our #1 purpose–to love and worship God at all times.

In our reading today, the frantic father cries out to Jesus, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” It would probably do us all good to make this cry part of our daily prayer.

Prayer is powerful. Our conversations with God are what keep us connected. We see another example of how powerful prayer is right here in today’s reading. The disciples had tried to heal the boy but failed. Jesus seemed a little impatient with them (but remember he is just back from a mountaintop experience). Jesus later told them what they had missed in their attempt. Prayer. Those stubborn demons require prayer to flee.

What demons are burdening you today? In the name of Jesus, and with prayer and belief, command them to flee.

Let’s pray. Lord, I come to you on bended knee, again humbled by your majesty and provision. Shield my heart from unclean thoughts and selfish desires. I long to know you more and share with others what you have done for me. May my life reflect you in all I say and do. I thank you for the mountaintop experiences I have had recently. I pray that as I get back to reality you will help me not be discouraged but instead to keep pushing forward. The best is yet to come, and I look forward to how you are going to use me and my voice. Thank you for your peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Psalm 143 – Hear My Prayer

Read Psalm 143

This psalm really has some juicy nuggets in it. There are so many requests going on. Remember that movie when Jim Carrey played God, I think it was Bruce Almighty. Well, I remember a scene where he was hearing all the prayer requests and he was overwhelmed. Couldn’t fathom at first how God could ever answer all of them.

I know that is a silly example, but it’s true. When we think of all the prayers God hears and he answers them all. In this psalm alone, we see David praying that (1) God will come quickly, (2) God not turn away, (3) God be heard every morning, (4) God show him the path, (5) God rescue from enemies, (6) God teach, (7) God silence enemies, (8) God destroy foes and so on. That is a relatively short prayer, but it is sure packed with requests.

But note, amidst the requests, there are beautiful affirmations. God is faithful and righteous, has done great works, shows unfailing love, and is gracious. God appreciates our adoration, and that should be the easy part of our prayers. Easy, but often forgotten.

Think about your prayer life. When you talk to God is it conversational or more like a plea full of requests? Do you shower him with praise and adoration, telling him of his greatness? Do you come with a grateful heart?

Do you think of God as your best friend or as a untouchable deity? The psalmist seems to be doing a good job of doing both. He is raw in his cries for help but mindful of who he is praying to.

Our prayers don’t need to be elaborate. They just need to be. We need to be talking with God and sharing our lives with him. Sure, he knows what we think before we think it and all of that, but he yearns to hear it come from us. He longs for a relationship with his children.

Reflect on your prayer life and how you can make it more meaningful for you and for God.

Let’s pray. Lord you are majestic and mighty. You have made all that is, and the beauty of your creation astounds me. Thank you that you have put me in your world to enjoy you in this way. Forgive me when I forge on ahead before bringing you into the plan. I want you to be Lord of my life. Guide me and move me in the direction you want me to go. Help me to listen for your voice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.