Just For The One

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 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day, he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

Mark 5: 1 -5

Doesn’t sound like much of a life. Probably a lot less of a life than this man imagined for himself. Much less than his parents imagined for him.  According to the story, much less than God imagined for him.

How do we know this?  Before Jesus and His disciples arrived on the other side of the sea, they had to cross that sea. They encountered a storm.  Jesus stilled the storm and they continued their journey.  They could have turned back, postponed the journey, left it for another day, but they didn’t. They pressed on.

Arriving on the shore, they were met by this man. He isn’t described in a very flattering way. Probably most of us, encountering him, would move away quickly.

Let someone else help him.

I have enough to do without adding this man to my list.

Besides, he probably deserved this. Probably chose to continue in behaviors that led him here. Probably walked away from family and treatment and help and now was only reaping the fruit of those decisions.

Just walk on by.

Not only did Jesus not just walk on by, but as we read on, we discover that as soon as this man was delivered of the legion of demons that tormented him, Jesus and His disciples got back in the boat and sailed back across the sea.

There was no one else and nothing else on their agenda that day besides delivering that man of the demons. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone else healed over on that side of the sea on that particular day.

Not all, not the many, not everyone who came to Him.

Just this one man.

This one man we could so easily pass by.

Jesus went out of His way to heal, just this one man.

Which raises this question in my mind – what wouldn’t He do for me?  For just me? What lengths would He go to to touch me, heal me, deliver me?

Since He is no respecter of persons, what He did for this man He will do for me.

And you.

I am so humbled when I think of You going out of Your way to touch my life. If I were the only one, You would have still gone to that cross on my behalf. Even now, there isn’t a storm that can keep You from me. No journey You wouldn’t undertake to set me free.  Thank You Jesus. Thank You for pursuing me when no one else would. When nothing of my life appeared worth the effort, You made that effort anyway. Thank You.  Amen.

 

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Who’s Job Is It?

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 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin.

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.

We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.

It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.

He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!

Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.

Saving is all his idea, and all his work.

All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.

It’s God’s gift from start to finish!

We don’t play the major role.

If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!

No, we neither make nor save ourselves.

God does both the making and saving.

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2: 4-7  Message Bible

Left to my own devices, I could be a stagnant mess, a worrier, a control freak, a hyper-vigilant fix-it-all person. One look in the mirror, one honest look tells me that I couldn’t fix myself much less anyone or anything else around me. It’s good to know I don’t have to play the major role in fixing my life or anyone else’s for that matter. Jesus took that role; He saw me when I was a terrible mess and reached out a hand and I have been clinging to that hand ever since. Well, mostly ever since. Ok, actually only when I find myself stumbling and know I can’t get up on my own. In spite of what I know about my failings and His grace, I still let go of His hand way more than I should, thinking I’ve got this when in actuality, I don’t. I never did. I never will. I need His grace every minute of every hour of every day and I am so grateful that His grace is available to me and that He showers it upon me and there is still plenty left over to shower upon you in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve it? Isn’t that awesome?

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Solid Rock

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My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

We have been singing this old hymn at church lately and it’s a good thing for me that we have. With these reports from the doctors coming in about the possible cancer in my husband’s body, I found myself getting into despair when the report was bad and feeling relief and optimistic when the report was less than bad. Singing this song made me realize the error there. My hope, my faith needs to be built on what Jesus did for me, what He did for my husband and for you. He took ALL our diseases. Can I say that again?  He took ALL our diseases, even cancer.

When I look too much to the doctors’ reports I can be up one minute and down another. That’s not faith. Faith is standing; standing on the promises of God. The God who will never leave or forsake me or you, the God who sent His son so we could be free of all the shame and guilt associated with our failings, the God who made His will known by having Jesus heal all who came to Him. His report is the report I place my faith on, His report is what I lean on and His finished work in Jesus Christ is what I gaze upon. All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus, thank You, for being my solid rock, my strong tower, my safe place in a world that sometimes seems anything but safe. Regardless of the doctors’ reports, Your word prevails in Bruce’s life and I am so grateful for that. Thank You for being the first word and the last word and all the words in between. Have Your way in our lives, I ask in Your mighty name, Amen.

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Whoa, There Pony!

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For we all stumble in many ways.

If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man,

able to bridle the whole body as well.

Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.

James 3: 2-3

When I was a kid, I wanted a horse more than anything. My uncle, who raised horses, offered to give me one, but I couldn’t have one because of my father’s allergies.  So, my mother gave up hours on a Saturday, every Saturday,  to drive me to Westheimer Stables so I could rent a horse for one hour. The drive took one hour each way and my mom would settle in and read a book for the hour I rode.

Ever ride a rented horse? Well, I’ll tell you how it was for me, regardless of the horse, they had two speeds. Leaving the stable, the horse walked at a snail’s pace. Nothing I did, no amount of kicking or coaxing would speed up that horse. So, for the first 50 minutes of my hour we walked slowly away from the stables. It wasn’t so exciting, but it was a horse and I loved it. What really made it worthwhile though, was the second speed which came the moment I turned that horse back to the stables. What took 50 minutes to walk, took less than 10 to run! Again, nothing I did would slow that horse down. No amount of pulling on the reins phased the horse at all. Those 10 minutes were a highlight of my week!

What I learned when I had my own horses is just this: simply putting a bit in a horse’s mouth doesn’t really control him. There is more to it than just that. A horse can harden his mouth against a bit so much so that it doesn’t hurt him at all when it is pulled on. He can also raise his head up high enough that the bit that was meant to control him loses all effectiveness because the angle of his head gets the pressure of the bit off his mouth. A horse learns, however,  with proper training to submit to the bit and drop his head down into a place where the bit can gently lead and guide him.

Likewise, we can harden ourselves against doing and saying what is right. We can develop a hardened heart towards someone that has hurt us and use that hurt as an excuse to hang on to unforgiveness and allow bitterness to take root. When we do that, we stumble. We can also raise our head high enough in haughtiness and pride that we are unwilling to yield our mouth and control our tongue. When we do that, we stumble. We all stumble and this verse tells us that a lot of our stumbling starts with our mouth and the things we say. The word tells us elsewhere, that the words that come from our mouth start in the heart. A heart that won’t yield itself to the gentle leading of the Spirit of God is just like that horse that refuses the leading of the bit. When we don’t yield, we are about as useful to God’s purposes as that horse is to the rider’s purposes. We can go our way or we can yield to His.

Almighty God, how ugly I can be when I don’t yield to Your ways and Your desires for me. How haughty I can become when I want to do things my way. I have felt the pressure of the bit You place in my mouth and oftentimes, I have just raised my head higher. Please forgive me. Help me to yield to Your gentle leading, Your gentle hand on the reins of my life as I submit to You and Your will. Help me to use my words to bringing life and healing and not judgment and condemnation, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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No Favorites

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Peter fairly exploded with his good news:

“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites!

It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.

The Message he sent to the children of Israel

that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again

well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

Acts 10:34

Good news is really hard to contain.  Peter fairly exploded (but Peter fairly exploded often!) with his good news. It is really good news – God doesn’t play favorites.  What He has done for one, He will do for another, for you, for me. I think this is awesome news, because I have discovered, and perhaps you have too, that pain doesn’t play favorites either. Doesn’t matter what race or gender you are. Doesn’t matter what your economic position is or your political affiliations.  It doesn’t matter what church you go to or that you go to church. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are. If you are a member of the human race and still breathing, pain can interrupt your plans and your life. Life sometimes stinks  – for all us.

This message that caused Peter to fairly explode should have such an effect of us as well.  It is tremendous news. I am no less loved or no more loved than anyone else. So when I see in scriptures that Jesus went about healing people, or as this verse would say, putting everything together again, I know I am included in that group called everyone.

He’s the one who healed the leper. He heals me.

He’s the one who dined with sinners. He will dine with me.

He’s the one who embraced children. He embraces me.

He’s the one who extended grace to the woman caught in adultery. He extends grace to me.

He’s the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. He will raise me from the dead.

He’s the  one who fed the hungry. He will provide for me.

He’s the one who healed the woman with the issue of blood. He heals me.

He’s the one who delivered the man possessed by demons. He delivers me.

He forgave those who persecuted Him, rejected Him, despised Him, neglected Him. He forgives me.

He’s the one who entered our world, so that we could learn how to enter His. He is with me.

And He will do the same for you.

Jesus, I am entering the Christmas season and my life  just got so busy. I don’t want to lose sight of You through this time. Turn my heart towards You; help me not to forget the message of the Christmas season. I feel You are beckoning me to remember that all that You did, to know that You did for it me, for each one of us, everyone of us. How precious we are in Your sight and dear we are to Your heart. Thank You for not playing favorites and thank You for coming to put everything together again. Amen.

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Discern His Body

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For anyone who eats and drinks (the Lord’s supper) without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.  I Corinthians 11:29-30

Most of the time when I have taken communion, the message preceding it has been about the forgiveness of my sins.  I only recently came to see this in a different light.  Jesus said we are to take the bread and the wine in remembrance of Him.  We are to remember what His sacrifice was all about – the forgiveness of our sins, for sure, but also the healing of our bodies.  He took all of our diseases as well as all of our sins.  Too often, I think that aspect of His death is overlooked.  And this verse tells us that that is why so many are sick.

Discerning the body means recognizing everything that Jesus’ sacrifice brought us and receiving it into our lives.  Really all that’s left to do is recognize the body of the Lord, receive His gift of healing and say thank you.  The words of this song by Matt Redman are a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving:

Jesus Christ,

I think upon your sacrifice You became nothing,

poured out to death.

Many times, I wonder at your gift of life.

And I’m in that place once again.

I’m in that place once again.

And once again I look upon the cross where you died.

I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside.

Once again I thank you.

Once again I pour out my life.

Thank you for the cross.

Thank you for the cross, my friend.

Thank you for the cross.

Thank you for the cross.

Thank you for the cross, my friend.

Jesus, my friend, my Savior, my Redeemer.  Thank You for the cross.  Thank You for Your sacrifice and Your gift of life to me, to my family, to our world.  I am humbled by Your mercy and so very grateful that You love me enough to not only take my sins but my pain and diseases also.  What an amazing Savior  You are.  What an awesome love You displayed.  Help me to recognize all of what You did for me on that cross as I remember You during communion.  In Your name, Amen

God Knows

I woke up Sunday morning with these words running through my mind – God knows. It hit me like fresh revelation and I just kept meditating on those words over and over again. God knows.  God knows what?  He knows I am having a hard time getting out of bed today. He knows the pain I am in and the uncertainty I have about the future.  He knows my deepest need, my unspoken dreams, my most crippling fears. He knows what tickles me and what gets my blood boiling.  He knows what path to lead me on, what doors to open and what doors to close.  He knows just the right words to whisper to my heart.  He knows the part of me that I won’t show you, the part of me I’d rather not see.  He knows that I need Him much more than I realize.  He knows the condition of my heart – the good, the bad, the ugly.

He tells me this in Psalm 139:  O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.  Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;  Thou dost understand my thought from afar.  Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all ways. 

Yes, God knows.  He knows my pain and He knows the day of my deliverance from this pain.  He knows what is causing in and what it takes to heal it.  For reasons only He knows, He hasn’t chosen to tell me and believe me, I have asked.  Repeatedly.

Can I rest in His promises even I don’t have answers?  Can I trust Him when the pain tells me – not today? Can it just be enough that He knows?  Can I find peace in the midst of the pain?  Can I just stop asking the questions and focus on my Healer and His promises?

God who knows the end from the beginning hasn’t lost track of me and my suffering and in His infinite, He has chosen the perfect day for my pain to come to an end.  I don’t know but God does.  And that’s good enough for me.

Infinite, All Powerful, All Knowing God thank You for noticing me.  For knowing me as intimately as You do, for even desiring that kind of intimacy with me.  Thank You for showing me what You are like through the person of Jesus Christ who healed people by Your power and in Your name.  Thank You that my day of deliverance is written on Your calendar and You alone know that date.  Help me to trust and be patient until that day that You deliver me in Jesus’s name.  Amen.

Are you in need of healing?  Can I pray for you/ with you?  Please let me know.

If you have a healing testimony, I would love to share it.

reprinted from my blog godhappenings.wordpress.com