Archive for February, 2006
Here you are, a new “recruit” in the band of brothers that Jesus called his disciples. You’re wandering around with Jesus, not really knowing what to expect. You come across people with leprosy, and Jesus heals them. A Roman officer comes up to your group and asks Jesus to heal his servant; Jesus makes this big deal out of this guy’s faith and the servant is healed.
Later, you head to Pete’s house and find his mom sick – Jesus heals her (which is good because she gets right up and prepares a meal).
You see all kinds of people who have gathered outside Pete’s house get healed.
You see Jesus calm a terrible storm.
You see Jesus cast demons out of two men.
And – that’s just what’s written about…
These guys got to see all this happen with their own eyes. And yet, they still screwed up – they doubted – they ran and hid – they denied they even knew Him.
Somehow, this gives me comfort when I doubt or when I fail. Today, we don’t have Jesus physically here with us. But, we do have the power of God in the Holy Spirit living inside us – guiding, prompting, convicting, encouraging and comforting. Today’s reading reminds me to tap into that power.
7 “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.
In the hands of a faithful believer, this promise has infinite, unlimited power.
Do you believe it? I say I do, but I really had to examine my heart this morning as I read this. Looking at these verses I have to sort through layers of legalism and doubt to come to my faith in this matter. I felt like Shrek when he was trying to explain to Donkey about layers – I see my experience with the “name it/claim it” people, my doubt of my own feelings, my doubt of my self-worth, my own my experience with non-answered prayers before, and there are even some layers I can’t identify yet. No wonder some of my prayers are never answered. Yet – if I could just “muster” up enough faith, huge mountains could be thrown into the sea.
Want another power verse? Look at verse 12:
12 “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
This is a summary of ALL that is taught in the law and the prophets? Wow – can you get a grasp on the potential of this promise? I wish I was there, but again the layers have built up over the promise. Pride, my failures, my fears, my childhood, my insecurities – even the way my gifts work in me have to be peeled back before I can truly do for someone what I would like them to do for me.
But, when we are obedient and can experience the power of these verses, God is glorified!
Lord, thank You again for Your awesome Word. Thank You for the life it brings by reading and discussing it. Help me – help all of us in these dBrags work through our faith in Your promises. Help us peel back all the layers of junk and get to Your promises. Increase our faith through the reading of Your Word as You have promised. I lay this down at Your feet, my King. Use me…
This chapter spoke to me about the authority of the presence of Jesus. If you’ve ever met someone who commanded attention and respect – not so much by what was being said, but more by the way the words were spoken, or the simple manner of the person: confidence or enthusiasm – then you can start to imagine how it must have been when Jesus arrived on the scene.
Well, why not? He knew who He was (is). Jesus has confidence and security. When He speaks, even E.F. Hutton listens (for those of you old enough to remember that marketing campaign).
Picture Peter and his brother Andrew doing their daily fishing routine when Jesus walks up.
19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and went with him.
At once! they left everything and followed Jesus. Would I do that? Dunno – if Jesus walked up, I might. I’d like to think I would. But to read about His authority is one thing. To experience it is another.
Do you have this kind of confidence? Do you know who you are? Or more importantly, do you know WHOSE you are? Look at the lyrics to the song, “Who Am I” by Casting Crowns:
Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I?
That the bright and morning star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart.
Not because of who I am but because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done but because of who you are.
I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I’m calling, Lord, you catch me when I’m falling
And you’ve told me who I am.I am yours
Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again.
Who am I?
That the voice that calmed the sea would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me.
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
‘Cause I am yours
I am yours
You are Sons of the Most High! Live Bold!
(not familiar with Wildmen? check it out: http://www.wildmenministry.com)
John the Baptist, a very interesting character. Can you say TOTALLY sold out?! I get the impression that he was not too concerned with what others thought of him or said about him. Look at the way he dresses. Look at his diet. He is totally self-contained, depending upon nothing but the Lord.
So – it’s not surprise his comments as he saw the religious leaders coming to him to be baptized. It appears as though he went ahead and baptized them, but with this warning:
8 Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. 9 Don’t just say, ‘We’re safe – we’re the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. 10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
Serious stuff, no? Can you imagine what must have been going through their minds? “Hey, I just came here to be baptized – how dare you infer that I’m only getting baptized for the purpose of ‘fire insurance’!”
I like this John – he tells it like it is. Can’t wait to chat with him on the “back porch”, too!
For some reason, as I read this chapter I was drawn into the wise men’s story. As we discover here, the wise men were not on scene to see Jesus in the animal stable in Bethlehem. You’re all probably aware of this.
But, were you aware of the tradition of “Three Wise Men’s Day” that is celebrated in Puerto Rico? I only found out a few years ago – and I have to say I like the sound of it. Even today, some Puerto Ricans exchange gifts on Jan. 6, which commemorates the Epiphany—the offering of gifts by the Three Wise Men to Jesus. As a matter of fact, in the 50s and 60s, Santa Claus was paraded along the streets of San Juan accompanied by men dressed as the Three Wise Men. Then, Santa was thought of as a menace who was taking over the Wise Men’s traditional task of bringing gifts.
The other thing I noticed about the wise men – they angered Herod by leaving without saying goodbye – because God had warned them not to return to Herod. So, Herod had every boy age 2 and under slaughtered – in an attempt to kill Jesus (who unbeknown to Herod had already fled to Egypt at the angel’s prompting).
Wow. Can you imagine?
17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: 18 “A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah – weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted – for they are dead.”
How many children died because of Herod’s pride and arrogance? What about the prophecy? God knew about this before it happened. Did Herod have a choice in the matter? Could he have chosen to belay that order?
Something to think about. This is another one of those mysteries I’ll never understand until I’m sitting on the “back porch” chatting with my buddies Pete, James & Job. (Lord, come quickly)