Deep Sigh

2018-10-12 12.45.14

He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). Mark 7:34

He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:12

It is noted twice in the above verses that Jesus sighed. I think the first was out of deep compassion as He healed the deaf and mute man; but also as I look at the second verse I wonder too if His sighs, in light of such compassion He knows that true faith will not come from seeing more miracles and signs. Jesus longs for all of us to come to a saving faith in Him. Seeing signs will only produce a hunger for more signs. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Are we moved to sighing with what moved Jesus too? Do we take time to see others needs and let our hearts break over them to the point of trying to meet those needs so that they may know His love too? Are we living out the Word and able to share the Word as opportunity affords so people can see and hear and desire that which an authentic faith in Jesus brings… eternal salvation?!

Sometimes it just takes one deep breath, one deep sigh to conjure up 20 seconds of bravery to take that first step in faith not by sight. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Think of the Syrophoenician womans faith in Mark 7:24-30. The only time in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus is addressed as “Lord” is Mark 7:28 “Yes, Lord,” she replied… she responds to Jesus in this story with such great faith and humility that Jesus rewards her great faith.

We are not saved by works we are saved by faith, but true faith produces works that glorify Him. Do our hearts have the kind of faith that sighs over what Jesus did to the point of moving our hands and feet into action to do His will, share His Word?

Jesus please increase our faith, help us show a world that continues to look for signs that its really about a faith in You they seek. Help us to continue to crave more of You every day, ignite our hearts with a passion for You and Your word that cannot be contained but must be shared through our thoughts, words and actions! The weight of this world can cause deep sighing yet You have said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” YOU are the answer to the tired sighs of this world, may the sighs of our heart move us to greater faith in You Jesus.

Independent read: 2 Cor. 5:7, Hebrews 11:6, Gal. 6:9, Jer. 20:9, Jer. 23:29, John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9

 

The Text Trumps Google

2018-10-12-09-54-44.png

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecc. 3:11

Do we pour over Jesus, the Word, like we would pour over a Sudoku puzzle or in my case a crossword? Our time and effort to wrestle out the Word with the Holy Spirit should far exceed our efforts in other areas as Jesus is the source of all wisdom. Jesus is wisdom, Wisdom is for everyone.

I have often been in the middle of a decision or situation that I have so longed to just be able to Google the answer for! Unfortunately some things just can’t be found or answered on Google! Google is knowledge, if all we needed was knowledge Google could be our Savior… but we need more than knowledge, we need wisdom; knowledge applied.

We can take if from Solomon that wisdom without Jesus is meaningless. Jesus is our wisdom, anything the world offers is futile and meaningless. God has set eternity in the hearts of men, not some men, in each person He has created there is a part that longs for Him, an empty spot that only He can satisfy.

Around our house an empty clean spot never stays that way for long! It’s like that spot just calls out to all 8 members of our family to put something in it!! So what is filling that spot in your heart that only Jesus can satisfy? OR what are you doing to show someone else the only One that can satisfy that empty spot in their heart?

In my own life the answer for the first question answers the second. If we are filled up with Him, His Word, and we are willing to go out into the world, the harvest field that He says is ripe (Matthew 9:37), He will use you to point to the Way! (1 Peter 2:12, John 14:6) “God is looking for people who live in the culture who know the text and live it.” Knowing the Word is key out in the world! Sometimes you will be the only Bible a person ever reads! Even Jesus when He walked this earth said nothing but what the Father gave Him. (John 12:49) So know the Word and live it out in His strength!

Is it scary sometimes? YES! When we fix our eyes on our own short comings and insecurities… but not when we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the great I AM, then it becomes an exhilarating adventure! (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Jesus created every heart and only He knows where each heart is in relation to Him. Only He knows what each person needs to see and or hear to draw them closer to Himself.

In my experience when I have gone out super prepared and studied up in His Word on what I think someone needs in order to be brought closer to Him, Jesus in His wisdom has brought Scripture to my mind that were completely off my list!! He alone knows the depth of each heart and in His time He makes all things beautiful so we are just to be faithfully studied up and willing to go out for Him. The more we pour ourselves over Him the more He can pour Himself into us and the more the Holy Spirit will have to draw upon in our hearts in the moment… (Luke 12:12) “Know the Text, to live the Text.”

God has always been about using whom the world would deem as lowly… announcing His birth to the shepherds, fishermen to advance the gospel… so do not be discouraged. He also used those that were held in high standing like Paul who was very learned but when the wisdom of Jesus met him on the road that empty spot that all his knowledge hadn’t been able to fill was filled with the wisdom of Jesus of which he was willing to become a fool for (2 Cor. 12:11)! He will use all willing hearts to advance His Kingdom!

We cannot fathom what He is doing from beginning to end so lets not get discouraged when we do not see results we were expecting from certain efforts. We are just called to be faithful with the moments He gives us and not to become weary in doing good. (Gal. 6:9) We are God’s temple (Luke 17:21) “we are on display for all to see. We are a city on a hill, Matthew 5:14. As the world’s temples continue to decay, we are being finished into something that will be perfected and eternal. What does your temple look like? Are you a person living and sharing the text?”

Know His Word, know the culture in which He has placed you for such a time as this and live His Word, boldly, fearlessly (Joshua 1:9)! The world is already desperately looking for what you have as He has set eternity in the hearts of EVERY man… are you willing to show them the Answer? He doesn’t always call the equipped but He always equips the called! Praise the mighty name of Jesus we are never alone (Matthew 28:19-20).

Independent Read: James 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16, Ecc. 1:12-18, Luke 14:23

Small Beginnings – go looking or go see?

A mustard seed - faith concept

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants… Mark 4:31-32

Jesus used the parable of the mustard seed to teach about His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God seems to have had humble beginnings – Jesus born in a stable announced to shepherds… growing up to be despised and rejected by man… the message carried forth by 12 unschooled and ordinary men! Humble beginnings to say the least. However one day Jesus will return and it will be anything but small (Revelation 19:11-16)! Romans 14:11 states, As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.

We see in Mark 6 Jesus and His disciples are faced with feeding 5,000. Jesus tells His men to feed them… flabbergasted the disciples respond in verse 37, That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat? Jesus responds with a question back in verse 38, How many loaves do you have? he asked. Go and see. Maybe Jesus was trying to tell them that they were asking the wrong question. Instead of go looking… go see…

The disciples respond, after they went to see what they already had around them… only five loaves and two fish, talk about small beginnings, how far will that go among a need of 5,000?! They were probably thinking… see Jesus, we need to go looking for something bigger and better, we need to go try to buy more, we need to try and fix this or just send them away so we don’t have to deal with it!

Yet after the disciples were obedient with “go see” and despite their confusion they hand Jesus their meager supply, He begins to move! Now everyone sit down this is gonna be good!! And it was! 5,000 were fed that day with 12 basket fulls left over!! All with such small beginnings!

Obedience to Jesus often requires faith and it is impossible to please Him without faith so even if you have just a little faith, even as small as a mustard seed Jesus says you can move mountains (Matthew 17:20)!! How can He take us to bigger things if we don’t have the faith to allow Him to use our small things, what we already have right where we are, even if what we see makes us want to go looking for more? Maybe He want’s to do more with the little we think is too insignificant to be of any use, but like two fish and five loaves, nothing is too small or insignificant when placed in our Heavenly Fathers mighty hands!

Jesus, please increase our faith and trust in Who You are, help us to get out of the way and allow You to start being all that You want to be to us. Help us not to despise small beginnings but to obediently place it all, big and little, into Your mighty hands and if You say so, have the faith to just sit down and watch what only You can do with our little for Your Kingdom and glory!

Independent Read: Zechariah 4:10, Luke 17:5

Kingdom Agent

2018-10-10 09.16.27

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Are we able to, like Jesus, “throw it off” in order to fully become the Kingdom Agent He intended for us to be? He never created someone He didn’t intend to use. Do you see your self that way? Others?

How often do I let things get me down and hold me back when His Word states in Romans 8:11 …the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. What incredible power! How many of us tap into it?!  Is it easier sometimes to just sit in excuses?

Mark 6:19 states, Herodias nursed a grudge…  with the nursing did the grudge go away? No, it grew until, (verse 21) Finally the opportune time came. For good? No, murder! Mark 6:26 tells us the king (the man Herodias was with) gave into peer pressure, The king was greatly distressed, but because of… his dinner guests the murder of John the Baptist took place. The moment we start to indulge our flesh rather than to radically throw off all that hinders our walk and obedience to our Heavenly Father we are stunted in our growth as the Kingdom Agent He intends us to be! (1 Cor. 10:13)

However sometimes it takes these trying moments, situations, circumstances to unearth the ugliness with in our selves. God is about building His Kingdom and He wants to use us as His agents but He can’t build solid on fluff like pride and self-centeredness and insecurities… Sometimes its these hard situations that shake us and we begin to see who we really are and Who we really need. As the ugliness crumbles away and we begin to throw it off, He then can fill us up, build us up, so that our focus, confidence, strength and security is now rooted in Him and we know it can only be rooted in Him as we on our own can do nothing (John 15:5).

Jesus gave us a perfect example of throwing it off and pressing on toward what truly mattered. Mark 6:34 shows us that all though Jesus had just gotten bad news about the murder of His cousin John the Baptist and was in need of rest and some time away along with His disciples, He is yet again met by a crowd seeking MORE from Him. He had every right to lash out and go the other way but He didn’t. Verse 34 says He SAW them and He took time in His exhaustion to TRULY see them and He took COMPASSION on them!! They should have been showing Him compassion but He never brings that up. Out of His selfless compassion He notices their need… they were like sheep without a shepherd. So the text says he began teaching them. He threw off His own excuses (which would have been very valid) to see others and their need and then begin meeting it. Incredible! We can’t do that ourselves but we have His Spirit within us Who can!!

Jesus, we want to be a healthy, solid Kingdom agents for You! Help us to throw off everything that would hinder us from becoming all that You have intended. In Your mighty matchless name help us to take hold of the power You are in us to break the chains the enemy tries to entangle us with… break them so that our children and grandchildren will never have to deal with them because You came to set people free! And who You set free are free indeed (John 8:36)! Free to be Your Kingdom agents for Your glory!

Independent Read: Hebrews 12

Living Saved

2018-10-08 09.05.45

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were over come with fear… (38) The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, (39) “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” Luke 8:37-39

If more people who ARE saved, LIVED like they were saved, more people would GET saved! I find that statement a great call to challenge; to live out our salvation.

In Luke 8:26-39 Jesus heals a demon possessed man and the city being mainly Greek and unfamiliar with the Jewish teachings of a Messiah were afraid when they saw this miracle. The unknown can create fear and we tend to shy away from what we fear. So for those of us who are saved and know Jesus, are we living it out in a way that authentically reflects the true and abundant life He gives?! Do we walk by faith and not by sight? OR do we let the worry and weight of this world get us down as if we have no eternal hope either?!

Unlike the town, the man who had been healed and truly knew the love and power of Jesus begged to be with Him! 1 John 4:18 states, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. As one saved in Jesus you know this love that took your punishment upon Himself on the cross so that you could live abundantly!! (John 10:10) Are we living abundantly?!

Jesus told the healed man to return home and tell this Greek town about what God had done for him in such great love and mercy! Is there a more powerful witness than one authentically LIVING out their faith in spite of fear, failure, struggle, disappointment, discouragement or set back?!

We can’t live it out on our own but He never asks us to. Amidst all the worlds distractions it’s never God getting distracted in our prayers, its never God getting too busy to make time for us… are we doing our part to fill up with His Spirit?

Jesus, please help me to fill up with more of You, to bow my knee to You as LORD of my life so that I might truly LIVE out my salvation in You so that others might witness all that You have done for me and want that perfect love and peace too; the kind that casts out all fear. In Your mighty name, Amen

Independent Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9, Galatians 6:9

Will I Be A Philip?

2018-10-06 15.39.31

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road -the desert road- that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out… Acts 9:26-27

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

…and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Acts 21:8-9 

About the Seven – Acts 6:3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. 

Quite a guy that Philip! When God said “Go.” he did with out question! I think I may have asked where, why, how especially in the desert?! But Philip just went, trusting God.

Philip sought others to bring to Jesus, he was eager to share the good news of Jesus with others and he went out intentionally looking for them.

With four daughters in the ministry he must have done all that he could to leave a legacy of faith within his own family. We know it is only God who turns the heart toward Him, it’s not us; however how often does faith die within our family for lack of attention to passing the most important torch – faith?!

Philip was known to be a man FULL of the Spirit and wisdom so much so that when the community was asked to find men like that Philip came to their mind. Quite a man of integrity, seeking the Lord in season and out. Philip was full of the Spirit, not half full or only when it was convenient, he was sold out, fully submitted to God’s will and purpose.

Let’s pray to be someone the Holy Spirit can fully fill, someone who trusts God completely without knowing details, someone who intentionally seeks others to share Jesus with and seizes every opportunity to leave a legacy of faith with my family.

Independent Read: 1 Corinthians 11:1

 

 

Choose Prayerfully

2018-10-06 14.31.12

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose… Luke 6:12-13

Choosing prayerfully is better than choosing carefully any day. Joshua 9 tells of a time he was deceived by the enemy because he acted on what seemed to him to be the obvious right decision. Take a moment to read Joshua 9.

The enemy is the father of lies John 8:44 tells us. So when we don’t know what to do and probably even more so when we think we DO know, choosing our path prayerfully over carefully should be our way 100 percent of the time. After all Joshua 9:14 states, the men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.  They were careful, they did sample, and to them it all checked out… until three days later (verse 16).

We don’t want to be caught “three days later” or anytime later wishing we had just chosen prayerfully instead of carefully on our own.

Independent read: Proverbs 3:5-6