By Jaime Luce What’s in a word? I know that normally we say what’s in a name but today I wanted to mull over what’s in a word. The word that seemed to keep jumping off the pages…
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Image by Ira Thomas
By Jaime Luce
What’s in a word? I know that normally we say what’s in a name but today I wanted to mull over what’s in a word. The word that seemed to keep jumping off the pages and onto my eyeballs was “Marvel”. We even have a comic strip of super hero’s called “Marvel comics”. Why do we put together the superpower or supernatural with Marvel? Is it a clue to the depths of our feelings and hopes, or maybe even our faith? I would venture to say it is. This should prove to be a thoughtful journey. We begin this journey in Luke chapter 2.
The scene begins with Mary and Joseph traveling for the census where Mary goes into labor and gives birth to Jesus in a stall full of animals. Just nine months earlier in Luke 1 we see that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel to tell her she was highly favored and that she was chosen to carry the Son of God who would save His people from their sins. She showed great faith in declaring “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word”. And we know she really did believe by faith what the angel said because when Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth exclaimed to Mary “Blessed is she who believed, for the fulfullment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” So we know Mary was full of faith and I think it would be safe to say that she was hanging on every word spoken to her by the angel. I know I would! I mean this could ruin her reputation. Her future will forever be altered and not because she chose it initially. She was chosen and had to face what she believed about God in her innermost being. We will see later how this was one of the purposes of Christs coming. But first let’s look at the Shepherds.
In v.8 the scene shifts from Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the Shepherds in the fields just doing their jobs. The verse says that the shepherds were living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an Angel appears standing before them glowing! They were terrified and the Angel tells them not to be afraid because he has good news that will bring great joy. He then tells them about Jesus’ birth and where to find them. The shepherds are so astonished they immediately set out to see for themselves. Then there in the manger they see Jesus just as the angel had said. So they did what anyone else would do. They began to tell everyone what had happened to them and what they saw. V. 18 tells us that all those who heard it “Marveled” at those things that were told to them. It is probably a good place to explain what to Marvel means. It’s very simple. It’s to wonder, to be amazed, to be astonished, to admire. The story of Jesus’ remarkeable birth and all it’s surrounding components should cause us to Marvel! To ponder and think about it and its implications for our lives. We should be amazed at His love for us that the “Darling of Heaven” would leave His kingdom and come die for us. And that’s just the beginning!
Fast forward to V. 25 to the day that Mary and Joseph go to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord, as was the custom according to the law of Moses. There at the temple was a man named Simeon whom the Bible says was a just and devout man and on whom was the Holy Spirit. So now we know he was quite a man! That day the Holy Spirit directed Simeon to go to the temple. When Simeon saw Jesus he said “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Then there it is again. V.33 And Joseph and His mother “marveled” at those things which were spoken of Him. I kind of struggled to understand that they marveled at this since they had first both been appeared to by Angels. Mary to her face and Joseph in a dream. Then the shepherds come and tell them that angels appeared to them to tell them about Jesus and what He would do. This is where I really began to think about this word Marvel. I mean doesn’t it seem like if you have a supernatural experience like that, that you would begin to let it sink in? It’s as if they were hearing it for the first time, both times. But wait, it gets better.
Simeon blesses them but then says this to Mary, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against”(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Now we’re getting to it. That word thoughts means to reason, to question and consider. It’s deliberation of turning thoughts over in the mind; reckoning by mental questions, opinions, designs, and disputes. The “Word Wealth” in my bible says this: Deliberating with himself, settling accounts, and suspicious because of his state of indecision. Through one’s acceptance or rejection of Christ, the real thoughts of one’s heart toward himself and toward God become clear.
I hope you’re still tracking with me here. When we are confronted with Jesus and all His glory this will happen: We will begin deliberating in our minds, asking questions and having suspicions. This happens because we are faced with our true thoughts towards God and ourselves. Maybe Mary kept marveling because she somehow couldn’t believe that something so wonderful could come from her and it wasn’t necessarily her doubting in God but in herself and her calling, or the doubt that she really was highly favored. We are forced to see what we really believe about Him and Us! Simeon said this is one of the reasons for His coming; So that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. How can we believe what God has said to us or about us until we know what we even think about God. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we saw over and over how the Pharisees, Scribes and Saducees thoughts toward God were challenged by Jesus himself. He told them they didn’t even know Him, that they were of their father the devil! Whoa, that’s pretty strong stuff. Our thoughts should not be gained by other peoples opinions and beliefs or the traditions of men but from our own experience and study of His Word. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure even when you have heard from Him, and maybe even supernaturally, that word will be challenged. Think of Mary. She had no doubt that the angel Gabriel visited her and told her what and how this all would happen yet I’m sure she was thinking this can’t be right as she goes into labor and there is no place for her to give birth except in the barn with the animals. She was alone and had no other women there to help her. Or even years later as Jesus is hanging on a cross! What did she believe then? You must realize that if God says it, even when it’s challenged, it will surely come to pass as He said. So let’s go back to the text.
While they were at the temple a prophetess named Anna prophesied of His redemption. So in one day they receive two confirmations of who He is. Then the text jumps ahead to when Jesus is twelve years old. His family has traveled to Jeruselem for the feast per their custom. When the feast is ended and they have begun to journey home Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus isn’t with them. They travel back looking for Him and find Him in the temple where it says in V.46 “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed…”
Time has passed since their visitations with Angels and of prophecy’s about who He was and what He would do. Maybe is was time to encourage themselves in their faith about the promises of God. Maybe they got so used to just living life and raising children that they forgot what was promised about Jesus and His purpose. I’m not sure why it was so surprising and amazing that Jesus would be in the temple and discussing the things of God after what they were told about His life. But this I do know. When we see Jesus at work His nature causes us to question, as it should. When we see Him moving in us or in others we should Marvel and see if we still hold firm to His promises and plans for our lives.
What are our thoughts towards God and Ourselves? This leads me to one last gem here that struck me. Let’s not forget our Savior came as a baby. A baby! A baby that needs to be raised and trained. If Jesus needed prophecy’s and confirmations of who He was and what He would become then so do we and so do our children. As we raise our children we must ask the Lord His thoughts and plans for our lives and those of our children so that we can train them up in the way they should go. Jesus was in the temple and our children should be also. We should be taking them to the house of God to teach them and train them how to hear from the one who knows their purpose. A place where they can ask questions and listen and learn what thoughts to think towards God and toward themselves. The world will tell them they are someone else. They need, no, we all need to know what He says about us. You may be a Mary, called to be a mother or you may be a Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit and serving at the church. You may be an Anna, a prophetess to the people of God. Whatever He has called you to, I challenge you to Marvel. Marvel at His greatness and power. Marvel at His love for you no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.”
Don’t let the worlds feeble attempts of greatness cause you to marvel. Marvel at Him, at the one who created it all from nothing and let Him show off His superpowers on your behalf! Jesus is my Superhero and no one else compares!
By Jaime Luce Is your storm raging? Are the winds against you? Have you been in this contrary position to the point of exhaustion? I have been in this place many times. That place where though …
Source: Jesus Is Passing By
Image by Ivan Aivazovsky
By Jaime Luce
Is your storm raging? Are the winds against you? Have you been in this contrary position to the point of exhaustion? I have been in this place many times. That place where though you have seen God move on your behalf and maybe even seen the miraculous, here you are again in the midst of another storm. Today while getting my morning Starbucks as per my routine, I flipped through my Facebook while waiting for my drink. I came across the story of a woman who had been through one storm after another to the point of exhaustion and wanting to quit. Complaining to her father, he puts three pots of water on the stove to boil. Into the three pots he placed potatoes, eggs, and coffee beans. Exasperated by the watching and not understanding the daughter complains “what are you doing?”. Finally the father speaks and asks “what do you see?”. She says, “Potatoes, eggs, and coffee”. This isn’t helping and the father explains that all three of these items were put into the same situation but resulted in very different outcomes. The potatoes, though they went in hard, were changed and came out soft and unable to stand up to the heat. The eggs, though going in fragile, came out hard on the inside. The coffee, however, remained unchanged. Rather than the boiling water changing the coffee bean, the coffee bean used its circumstance to make use of the boiling water, creating something new and useful, coffee. Then the father asked his daughter, “which one are you?”. Then as I sat down to have a time of devotions I read the story in Mark 6. Which leads me to today’s muse.
Mark 6 has several different stories to tell but what I found is a deeper thread running through all of them beginning in chapter 5. Many times we read the stories of Jesus healing people and teaching the disciples but we don’t pay attention to what Jesus was dealing with Himself. This chapter immediately follows the account of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and the raising of Jairus’ daughter back to life. Which on a side note has a beautiful picture of Jesus speaking to Jairus. When Jairus hears the words that his daughter is dead Jesus immediately tells him “Do not be afraid, only believe.” He spoke hope as quickly as the words of death were spoken. He always has compassion and speaks life to us in our moment of panic. Okay, side bar finished. Back to the topic at hand. After all this happened we see that Jesus went to His own country. This is so sad to me because He grew up there and no one believed in Him. They questioned who He was, who taught Him, and how He had done what people said He could do. His response to this is in Mark 6:4 Where Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Can you imagine how He was feeling? The ones He wanted to minister to most were the same ones He could do the least for, even in His own house. This can be such a lonely and discouraging feeling when your loved ones do not believe in you. For most this would lead to all kinds of dysfunction. Thankfully our Teacher always shows us what to do.
Then Jesus who continually cares about the Father’s mission and not Himself began to train the disciples to go out into the ministry on their own. He gave them power over unclean spirits and told them how to be received and how to be rejected. These things He knew from personal experience as we just saw. Once they came back they shared of all they had done, all who were healed, and all they taught. Then we see while they were doing the ministry, and doing it for the first time alone, they get the news of John the Baptists murder by beheading demanding them to stop to bury John’s body. All the disciples were dealing with great grief. You know the feeling. When you work and work to take care of everyone and in the midst of all your giving you get hard news. Another storm. Sometimes things just seem to come wave after wave, crashing over you. We know they were feeling overwhelmed because Jesus says in Mark 6:31, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus and the disciples were longing for time to recover. Another side bar, remember that your Pastors and leaders too, get overwhelmed and need a break. Be good to them. Pray for them. Encourage them as they are always giving and find it hard to take time to rest and be refreshed. Side bar closed.
At this point in the story I am desperately hoping that Jesus gets some time alone. But the crowds of people who always followed them saw where they were going and ran ahead of them so that when Jesus and the disciples got there a great multitude was there waiting for them. I mean come on, they need a break! But look at v. 34. “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” So He began to teach them many things. This went on until way in the night. No one had eaten or had brought food to eat. Jesus tells the disciples “You feed them”. The disciples not understanding what He meant, questioned Jesus’ words knowing it was impossible. We are just like them. We don’t walk in the knowledge that Jesus is the miracle worker to do the impossible and if He asks us to do something, there is a way and He will perform it. We remain in our pattern of natural thinking. Jesus on the other hand knew what He was going to do. He was going to do what He always does. He tells us to bring Him what we have, that’s all. Just bring what you have no matter how insignificant. He will take it as He did, bless it, and then ask you to share it. He even shows them how to share it. And in doing this the multitude is blessed and their need is met.
We as humans make ministry too complicated. Just take what you have and give it to The Lord. Let Him bless it and then share it as He gives you direction. It’s that simple. Jesus said in Matthew 10:8 “freely you have received so freely give”. Our problem is the same as the disciples had. We bounce right back into natural thinking even after witnessing the power of God, without remaining firm in the knowledge of God’s provision. Then Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side so He could send the multitude away. Following Jesus’ instruction they are immediately forced to deal with another storm in the natural.
The scripture tells us that Jesus was longing for time to pray alone and be refreshed, yet He can see His disciples straining at rowing. They were struggling to go where they were told to go because the wind was against them. Let that sink in. Do you ever feel like “God I’m doing what you told me to do and yet the wind is against me. I’m struggling to get to the other side like you told me”. Well first can I tell you, me too. We all struggle with the same thing. The enemy loves to bring confusion to your mind about the very thing that the Lord has commanded you to do. You think you know what the Lord wants you to do but accomplishing it isn’t easy. It seems like maybe we heard wrong because surely if we heard Him correctly this would be easy, right? I really questioned the Lord reading this, this morning and asked Him to show me what I’m missing. In V. 48 it says, “Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch (which by the way is 3-6am, so they were straining all night and not making progress) of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” WHAT? HE WOULD HAVE PASSED THEM BY? How could He do that? Why would He do that? The one who always has compassion was going to just walk right past them.
Oh my goodness folks. When He showed this to me I got it. Jesus was walking without strain on the same waves that the disciples were straining against due to the wind. The Teacher was again teaching a lesson. Why do we strain when we know we have heard His instruction? He had just multiplied the food from nothing with no effort of theirs other than to assess what they had and give it to Him. Yes, there was wind and yes, there were waves which made it difficult and even a struggle to row, yet Jesus was walking on the waves with ease. They thought He was a ghost and cried out in fear. So Jesus of course says, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” and got in their boat. Here is where we pay attention to what Jesus said. His first words were “be of good cheer”. This is our clue when we face opposition. You see there are different kinds of storms. The kind that can drown you and take your life if you let it. Then there are the storms that can’t really harm you yet can still cause you a lot of struggle and strain. This was exactly that type of storm. The wind pushed against them making it difficult to gain ground. The kind of winds that can wear you out. And remember they were already tired to begin with. They had ministered all day and into the night. That is usually when these kinds of storms come. You know those kinds of struggles. The ones that feel as though everything is pushing against you and are not for you. When there is nothing propelling you forward or giving you the lift you need. But Jesus told them what the answer was. “BE OF GOOD CHEER, IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID.” Do you see it? The first thing they needed to do was have joy. Be of good cheer. Be happy! God has given the direction. So regardless if it is easy or not we should have joy because in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 we know, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” That’s something to be joyful about. Remember how Joshua and the children of Israel were instructed by God on how to enter the promised land and take Jericho? They marched around for 6 days and then on the 7th day and the 7th time around they were to blow the trumpet and let out a great shout. Why do you think they were to do that? Well first when you lift up your voice in victory it gives you strength. It’s the “I can do it!” in our spirits. That’s why the scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Jesus stands up in you and you feel the strength and the victory. You may ask where does the joy come from? It’s the understanding that we already have the victory. The knowledge that you don’t have to strain for it. Jesus said it and that settles it. It’s what He said to Jairus. “Do not be afraid, only believe!” You must walk the walk or fight the fight with joy. Paul called it the good fight of faith. Not every storm is bad. Sometimes they are lessons in victory.
Then, to shout with victory confuses the enemy. He isn’t sure what’s happening. The thing he sent for you to struggle against is making you joyful? How can that be? A cheerful spirit is a win, win! You go from strength to strength (Psalm 84.7) and from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Then Jesus tells them “It is I”. We must remember you never have to fear Jesus or anything He calls you to do. “It is I”. He is there accomplishing something in you and for you. All we have to do is call out to Him and He will immediately join us. He told them “Do not be afraid”. We always seem to need reminding that there is no need for fear when you have His joy and know it’s Him and He’s with you. But the disciples did not understand this. Mark, the author, tells us why they didn’t get it in V. 52 telling us they had not understood about the loaves, because their hearts were hardened. This means that though He had just performed a great miracle from nothing more than what they had and fed over 5,000 hungry men let alone women and children, the disciples did not have the confidence that Jesus’ provision was enough to cross the wind and waves. They weren’t able to apply the knowledge of His provision in any circumstance. Their hearts were hard, like the analogy of the egg in boiling water, they were hard on the inside because of their storms.
Jesus just may pass on by if you don’t invite Him to travel with you. He was passing by because He was going where He told them to go. He didn’t even need a boat to get there. Just like He didn’t need a bunch a food to feed people. His provision is always enough. It’s enough even when the wind in against you. And just like the disciples, once His joy is with you the wind will cease. You will realize that a storm isn’t a storm if you have His joy. A storm isn’t a storm when you invite Him on your journey of obedience. A storm isn’t a storm when the Creator leads the way.
I know you may be facing some very real challenges and the wind is against you, but today ask the One who made the wind and waves to step into your boat and receive His joy. He is always trustworthy. The scripture says in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Let Jesus speak to you before you panic as He did for Jairus. He has shown us that no matter what is going on He always has compassion on us. You may be in the boiling water of life. Which one are you? The potato, the egg or the coffee bean? Jesus is passing by. Don’t miss your opportunity to remain firm ,standing in confidence in your spirit, and change the elements outside of you and let His joy give you victory.
Source: Can you hear me now?
By Jaime Luce
Are we really listening? I have seen this quote several times lately and I even shared it on Facebook myself. It’s a truth that’s worth paying attention to. It is said that communication is at the heart of most of our relational problems. Many times we think that the person we have the conflict with just isn’t listening to us. I mean really have you ever said “You’re not listening to me.” Or we feel misunderstood. We say “You don’t understand”. I think we are all right because we are usually not really listening. And here is the kicker. God is saying the same thing to us. “You don’t understand” and the reason you don’t understand is that ” You’re not listening to me”.
We do have a hearing problem. It’s so funny how for the most part we think it’s always the other person. So hang on. Don’t tune me out now. This is what I mean. It really is exactly what the quote says. So here is another quote for you.
You know when we are being formed in our mothers womb we develop our ears before our eyes. God is so wise. This is why scripture tells us that the just live by faith and not sight. Justice is truth with right actions. This we do because we know it is right regardless of what it may look like on the outside. And how do we know what the truth is? By the only source of truth, the Word of God. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). And how do we gain the trust or faith in that word? Well the scripture tells us that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So what it’s saying is that even though we read the words with our eyes it is our spirit who hears it. It’s the hearing that affects us from the inside out. Our sight affects us from the outside in. If we live from the outside in we will always be shaken by the storms around us but if we live from the inside out we won’t be moved by the surrounding storms.
I’ve also heard it said to think about what you are thinking about which is a right thing to do. But I submit to you to think about what you are listening to? If faith comes by hearing we must be diligent about what we hear. Hearing God was an inherent gift given to us at creation. God came and walked and talked with Adam and Eve everyday. This was not only what we were able to do but what we did regularly. It isn’t some spooky thing to think we can speak to and hear from our creator. You wouldn’t think it strange for a father to talk to his children and yet so many do. We have been tricked out of our relationship with the most awesome powerful holy God who happens to be our Papa. Every little boy likes to have that “my dad is bigger than your dad” or “my dad is stronger than your dad” verbal contest. Our daddy put that in us. He wants us to know he’s the biggest, strongest and most awesome there is and then to rely on that knowledge.
So this then brings us to a crossroads of sorts. Because not only can we hear from HIM but He expects us to listen! Imagine that. A parent expecting his child to not just hear but listen and act accordingly. And this isn’t because He’s mean or a tyrant with a big ego wanting his way but because He’s a good father and he wants to teach us how to grow and be secure in who we are as His children. The problem is we rely on our eyes and not our ears. When He speaks He expects us to listen. To think you can’t hear is a lie. How can we ever grow up into strength if we can’t hear who we are, where we are to go and what we are to do? We must receive the truth that we can hear. Mark 4:24-25 says “Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” This is such a great promise! If I listen He will talk to me even more. I can choose how much I hear from him. But by the same token if I don’t listen He will quit speaking. Isn’t that how it is with each other? After a while if the person you keep talking to just doesn’t listen then you quit speaking. We no longer waste our time. Which brings us back to our quotes. We must become people who listen in order to learn and grow and not those who mearly listen in order to reply. When we only want to reply we show just how proud we are in thinking we already know it all and don’t need to be taught. We must humble ourselves and listen to our father. Then the great benefit is His promise that faith will rise in us because faith cometh by hearing. His words are available to us everyday.
If you aren’t reading His words or praying and conversing with Him you really can’t hold Him responsible when you feel confused and don’t know what to do. We must grow in our faith knowing He has made the way for us to hear Him and know Him. The faith that comes is not a faith in faith which is nothing more than positive thinking but the knowledge that He will do what He has promised. It is that truth that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight. Sight without hearing can be very deceiving. It’s like those videos that depending on the music in the background can fool you on what you are watching. If I see a shark in the water with circus music in the background I exect silly clown activity with bumbling around and running into things but if I hear the Jaws song I expect someone to die! We need our ears open and paying attention. We need to listen with the intent to hear and learn. Let’s be good stewards of the ears we have been given. They affect our very spirit.
Today you can rest in the knowledge that you have a good dad who wants to walk and talk with you. He will give you the guidance and strength for whatever journey you find yourself on. Don’t choose to walk alone or in fear. And for goodness sake don’t go listening to all the wrong things. On this journey pack your bible and take heed to what you hear. I promise He will speak.
By Jaime Luce Life happens! It happens to all of us. If you have a pulse and don’t live in a 6×3 foot box then life still happens. You can be cruising along just fine when like someth…
Source: The Heart Of The Matter
Photo by Freeimages.com
By Jaime Luce
Life happens! It happens to all of us. If you have a pulse and don’t live in a 6×3 foot box then life still happens. You can be cruising along just fine when like something out of a Batman and Robin episode “wham” you hit a speed bump or worse you can “splat” right into a wall. As the scripture says, “It rains on the just and the unjust”. There is no discrimination in the process of life. We all will experience it. Some for shorter periods of time and for others longer. These are the seasons. But as I was reading Jesus’ words today in Matthew 9 I was struck by the understanding that so many times we don’t understand why or what we really need.
I’m not going to attempt to answer your why today but maybe open your heart to hear a little bit better. The setting of the story is this. Jesus has just delivered men from demons in quite a display. Not because Jesus was making a show but the demons caused a whole herd of pigs to run of a cliff! Sadly though there was a great deliverance yet the people who witnessed it wanted nothing to do with the deliverer. They asked him to leave. Now I’m not saying that you would say out loud anything like that but I do think sometimes our actions ask for the same result. Jesus shows up and does a great work but maybe we don’t like the way he chose to do it. Ouch. That’s not part of my this muse today but it was free in case you needed it. That’s a hurdle for another day. Now back to the point. Jesus being the gentleman that he is left at their request. He decided to go back to his home town. He got in a boat and crossed over.
Now this is where we pick up for today. The scripture says in Verse 2 that a paralytic man was brought to Jesus and he saw their faith. I know sometimes we are so swallowed up by our circumstance that we not only can’t get to Jesus on our own but it’s their faith, those believing for you that carry us to the answer. No condemnation here. I’ve been there more times than I want to admit. Thank God for those who pray for us and encourage us along the way. Jesus is always moved by faith no matter if it was theirs or his. Here’s where is gets really interesting. Jesus say’s to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.” Now there is a whole exchange between Jesus and the scribes but that isn’t what struck me. You would think that Jesus would straight away tell the man what he most wanted to hear. You’re healed! But he didn’t. Was Jesus just wanting to spar with the scribes? Did he think the man was only lying down because he was tired? Didn’t he see what the real problem was?
That’s the point my friends. He did see what the real problem was. The scribes missed it. The friends missed it. Even the paralytic missed it. What really was wrong with the man? It wasn’t that his legs didn’t move. Jesus never spoke without thought. Every word was what he heard the Father say. He only did what he saw the Father do. So this was very strategic. Sometimes we have problems in our lives and we are praying for the seemingly obvious answer to those problems but are asking for the wrong things. If Jesus would have simply said your healed first and never said “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you” then this man would never have truly been healed. He would have just fell into the next thing. His legs may have worked but his heart wouldn’t have.
Let me unpack this a little for you. Sometimes the battles we are facing are just symptoms of the bigger problem. Jesus’ words explained what was going on. First he called him Son. This man needed to know he had a loving Father who claimed him as his own. No matter what he had ever thought or had done he was not forgotten. He wasn’t disqualified or written off because he had a handicap. He was still a Son. He was still loved and valued. Second, Jesus said “be of good cheer”. The man needed to know there was something worth having joy about, something that lasts longer than a passing laugh or something funny or a fleeting moment of happiness. To have good cheer is something you have on the inside that makes it’s way to the outside. It becomes contagious. Good cheer affects more than just you and Jesus was saying be of good cheer. It’s okay to be happy. Sometimes we believe the lie that we can’t be happy. Or that people will judge us for being happy. They think that because of our circumstance we should be walking around in sackcloth and ashes. Well it just isn’t the truth. Jesus has given us the permission to be happy. He commanded it. He didn’t say “hey man, you really should try to be happy”. It wasn’t a suggestion. Jesus knew what he was about to do. He knew the truth that was going to pierce that man’s heart and truly set him free. Here it is! This man needed to know that he was forgiven. Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter. It wasn’t his healing he needed most. Yes, he needed healing but above that he needed to know that he was forgiven. Many times we accept our ailments or troubles because we feel we deserve them. I have been there. We don’t realize the enemy has got us fooled. We are locked in a prison and we are holding the keys. Jesus always has the answer you need. I don’t know what you are facing today. It may or may not be physical but it can be debilitating none the less. How about trying something different today. Instead of praying for that thing to go away or be fixed or healed try asking him what you need. The scripture says in Matthew 6:8 not to be like the others. That he knows what we have need of before we ask. You can trust him. He doesn’t just want your circumstance to change. He wants to give you true joy. He came to give us life and that more abundantly. Don’t settle for the crumbs when you can have the bread. Don’t accept a life without joy. Let his light shine in your darkness today.
Today is your day. Be of good cheer!
Don’t be like the scribes who didn’t like what Jesus said. He can be trusted with everything that concerns you. You’re his child. He loves you! You’re not unworthy or disqualified. Son, Daughter, be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven you. You don’t ever have to go back. And if you have never asked him to forgive you it’s just that simple. You just ask him and the scripture says that he is faithful an just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. Once we have this understanding we are then able to hear those words that that man was waiting to hear. Jesus then told him “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house”. And the man did just that and so can you. Walk out of that prison and find your joy!
By Jaime Luce
Perspective, it’s what governs every action we act on. Whether our actions are in thought, word or deed they are all first rung through the place of perspective. Think about it. There isn’t one thing you will do today that wasn’t based off of what you perceive to bring about a particular outcome even if it’s just your routine. You perform daily tasks because in some form or fashion it will bring about results that from your perspective will give you a desired end. If you use a coupon it’s because you believe it to be the best way to save money where as someone else would say that taking the time to look for and cut a coupon was a waste of their time, that their time was more valuable therefore not worth the possible gain in finances. Whether we realize it or not we are all in a race to a finish line. Like a swimmer we are either focused on our stroke, form and even our breath making strides with every reach or we are just treading water. Perspective is everything. It was this understanding that really struck me while reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.
This passage contains the famed Beatitudes. Don’t you love it. These are to “be our attitudes”. This chapter is an in your face confrontation of what we are supposed to be as followers of Christ. That our actions are not the final say on whether we’re hitting the mark or not. It’s what’s in our heart and in our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t give it to them nice and sweet. You know we would all prefer the Mary Poppins version. You know, “a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Well I don’t ever see where Jesus ever wasted any time making nice nice. He was a King and our Savior and when your saving a person drowning you don’t waste time making introductions and hoping they like you enough to save you. There’s that perspective again.
We live in a culture of offense. If we don’t like what someone says or the way they say it we think we are right to dismiss what is being said. We have no desire to grow or be made better by the character of God we are supposed to be emulating. My favorite example of this is the 10 Commandments vs. Grace, the Old Testaments Big Bad Law. We say don’t tell me that law. I’m under grace. Well Ma’am, sir, yes you now have the wonderful unmerited favor and amazing grace that said you no longer have to pay the penalty of your sin. It’s truly fantastic and we are no longer under any condemnation. We are made new! But would you want to put on your freshly clean showered body a dirty stinky old piece of clothes. Who does that? God’s precious grace is so powerful it is the tool we use to live a new life, not the old.
Let’s look at the 10 commandments from a fresh perspective. Have you ever thought about what our world would be like if everyone Loved the Lord with all their heart? It would be a world where everyone served him first above all other things in the order he designed. A place where there was no murder, no theft, no lying, no greed and where every family had whole healthy relationships between parents and children. Honor was the standard and everyone enjoyed long life full of blessing. My friends that is paradise! A God given utopia. God’s design for us from the beginning was the Garden of Eden. If your perspective of God is that he’s a mad mean God who is looking how to make life hard and without fun then you have the wrong image of God. He’s a wonderful loving father who wants to provide for our every need in order to live a blessed life. I’ll prove it to you. In Genesis 2 God provides for a perfect environment from giving man a helper in Eve to feeding perfectly the plants with an exact temperature and mist to grow them everyday. A place where he came everyday in the cool of the day to just walk and talk with them. The land had flowing water streams, hills filled with gold and precious stones and complete peace among everything that had breath. But the real showing of God’s merciful and caring character is after Adam and Eve sinned. He didn’t call them out and embarrass them. He asked what happened and then made clothes for them to properly cover their shame. He loved them. Then to protect them from a worse fate of eternal damnation with no hope of salvation he made them leave the garden. This was God loving us as well. We needed salvation from our sin and Jesus was our reconciliation to God and his plan.
His plan was and is still to meet our needs. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “I didn’t come to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill”. His sacrifice and perfect grace that was imparted to us was a gift to help us live a life that was intended for us, a life like that reflected in the 10 commandments. In our fallen state we could never measure up but with Jesus all things are possible. God said of himself to Paul that his strength is made perfect in our weakness. He knows how to make perfect in us whatever needs help. When we see correctly his plan, we can more easily receive his grace to live a holy and righteous life free from the evil that destroys us. I know this is a challenge but I do challenge you to look at God through a new perspective. To see his laws as a blessing not a list of do’s and don’ts that are made to restrict. That’s not the God I serve. That’s not the character of the one who gave his only son to save a world. The scripture says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That’s the character of our God. Now like Paul let’s live a life worthy of the calling. We press toward the price of the high calling. It’s time to step up and live a redeemed life. His grace is sufficient for you. Life is good with the right perspective.
By Jaime Luce
Have you ever had one of those times where you have read a passage in the Bible many times but see something for the first time? Well I do, quite often really, and today was no different. I was reading Matthew 1 and right there in verse 5, the genealogy mind you, something just jumped off the page and stuck to my eyeballs. Okay well not quite, but it did feel that way. Anyway, since I was blessed to be born into a Christian home with knowledge of the Bible and those mentioned in it I was taken aback to see this as if I never read it before. I was very familiar with the person Boaz since my mother loved the story of Boaz and Ruth which I heard often. But today, and why it took so long to see I don’t know, but right there in Verse 5 we see who his mother was. Are you ready? Wait for it… I couldn’t believe it. Rahab! Rahab the Harlot! How would you like it if every time your name was mentioned it was followed by the title “Harlot”? Talk about never outrunning your past. I mean I can’t think of her any other way. Well, that was until today.
Now maybe you aren’t familiar with either of these people so let me help clarify. While the children of Israel had been delivered out of Egypt they had not yet possessed the “Promised Land”. In order to prepare to go and possess it Joshua their fearless leader, trained under Moses, was sending in spies to see what they were up against for this first city Jericho. While doing all this spying word gets out that they are there and they are famously hid by Rahab on the top of her roof. Now Rahab was not an Israelite but a harlot (see how I did that again) and in the midst of the fear that all Jericho was feeling she made a decision to believe what she had heard about their God. How he had opened the Red Sea and they made it through on dry ground, how their enemies were annihilated and now he was coming for them. She responded like most red blooded fearful humans would. She promised to hide and save the spies and in return they would spare her and anyone in her house when they came to destroy the city. All she had to do was hang a scarlet cord out her window and all of Israel would know they were not to touch them. Sounds like a pretty good deal. Sometimes the best choice is your only choice. Huh hum, well sometimes, not all the time. But in this case it was.
I always knew that her name was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. And that her act of hiding them was a memorial to her but I have to admit that I never saw anything else that said she wasn’t just making a shrewd move to save her life. I mean really, we might all do the same if we thought we were going to die. So I never gave her credit for truly turning her life around. Then I go and see verse 5 “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse and Jesse begot David the king.” It’s right there in black and white.
So let me tell you why this is so amazing. The proof of her life change was seen in two specific things. One that she married an Israelite. She stopped with the harlotry and married an Israelite and then gave birth to Boaz. How do I know that she changed? Because Boaz was an honorable man. He was a man of great wealth and renown who had compassion and wisdom and a heart of generosity. He valued the law and the ways of God. He loved the one who was a foreigner, not an Israelite and she was destitute. This is the proof of a mother who raised her son to know the God whom she came to know who rescued her from certain damnation. This God she came to know gave her beauty for ashes. Her past was nothing anymore. She gained a whole new life free from who she was and living among new people with a new future. She had a complete overhaul.
I don’t know what you may have gone through or what you may be going through but you are not disqualified from the life God has planned for you. According to Romans 2:11 God does not show favoritism. He’s no respecter of persons. Jeremiah 29:11 Says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This is exactly what he did for Rahab and it’s exactly what he will do for you. Not to mention the hope we should gain by seeing our potential as mothers. God will be faithful to lead us and guide us in raising our children into men and women of honor. We don’t have to fear the dishonor of our past but we can hold fast to the honor set before us. Rahab’s lineage continued to the birth of Jesus all because she believed in the God of her salvation and let him change her life. So consequently all we have to do is follow her example. Today you can choose Him. Today you can hold your head up high and call on your redeemer Jesus. I like how King David said it in Psalm 121:1-2, who by the way was Rahab’s Great Grandson, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.…” Disqualified? I think not!
God’s got this! Do you have him?