I Wish I Knew!

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“I don’t know.”  “I don’t have any answers!”   Too often we encounter a situation that stumps us.  We have absolutely no solutions.  No matter how many times we read the Scriptures looking for an explanation, or even time spent before the Lord in prayer – we know no more at the end then when we first started.

How do you answer the question why, to a grieving young couple that loses a beloved child?  There are no words that will bring comfort and understanding why their child.  Or to parents as they stand by and watch their son or daughter struggle with mental illness, as they face the threat of suicide daily.  Maybe its parents who are facing a life time of care for a child that will never be able to care for themselves.   Or when a loved one or a friend asks, “Why doesn’t the Lord heal me?”

Unfortunately, too often we have no answers and in most situations we really don’t know anyone else who does have an answer.  Yet how do we minister?  To simply say, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t mean anything at these times.   “Time will heal the pain,” is another statement we make, hoping to ease the sufferers’ pain.  Yet, in reality – their agony may lessen but it never truly ends.

What can we do?  How can we help?  In all honesty, many times all we can do is lend them a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and a loving heart.  More importantly, we have the ability to bring their name and situation up before the throne of the Lord.  As we lift them up, He will move on their behalf.  He can meet their needs in ways that we never could.

Peter was imprisoned, chained and totally surrounded by prison guards.  No one could bail him out; his friend’s hands were basically tied.  Yet as the prayer warriors lifted Peter’s name up before the Throne of grace, the Lord sent an answer.  An angel calmly walked Peter out right past his captors.  God had intervened where no mere mortal could.  John the Beloved, endured torture and being exiled.  However, in each step of his life, he saw the mercy of the Lord.  He lived and faithfully recorded the book of Revelation.  Each man was faithful to their call, no matter how difficult their call was.

Did John cry out for relief in his time of being exiled?  Or Paul wander if this was truly the Lord, as he was forced to travel to Rome?  We can look throughout the Word and see hardships in the lives of His children.  Every single man, woman and child will endure something at some point in their life.  Yet, even as they endure, just as we endure in ours, we must draw closer to the Lord.  He is our hope and our salvation.  His peace can rain into our life even in the midst of our trial.

As Christians, we have to be honest; we don’t know all the answers.  In fact most of the time, we don’t have any answers.  But thankfully, we know the One who does.  He knows it all from beginning to end, every single day of our life.  It is at these times, that we must realize that we might not understand but in the midst of it all, we can trust Him.  He promises to be with us always.  We might not know what to say, but we know how to pray.  And in those instances that we are out of word, we can cry out “Lord, let Your will be done!”    “Yes, Lord, let Your will be done in their life and in ours.”

Garden Life

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Life as a Christian is like living in a rose garden.  Yea, right!  Sure it is! People forget that roses have thorns and lots of them.  Some varieties are covered with small prickly ones and others have huge spear like thorns.  And truthfully, we manage to hit every single one in our walk with the Lord.  We turn to the left and when we encounter one feeling the pain, we quickly dodge to the right.  Bam!  There goes another one.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Christian.  Even in the midst of trouble, I have sensed the peace of the Lord and have the assurance that He will never leave me.  But, just because I cried out for forgiveness and salvation doesn’t change the fact that I, and all of you live in a fallen world.  People get mad and hate you for no reason.  Hard times bring about sadness and despair.  Sickness comes.  Folks you love pass away.  Suffering seems to come too often into the life of a believer.

Let’s be real honest.  Sometimes, we bring it on our self by the choices we make.   Thankfully, we are not alone and even more important, we can see in throughout the Word.  People have hard times.  They get angry, depressed and want to die.   The Scriptures tells stories about not only the great times and the victorious times, it reveals the hard times, the heartaches, the anger and ‘I want to die!’ attitudes of even the strongest of God’s people.

Adam and Eve discover in just a short time, they truthfully lose two sons.  One is the very first murder victim and the other is forced to become a wanderer on the face of the earth.  Why, Cain allowed anger toward his brother for something Abel had absolutely no control over.  The decision to accept Abel’s offering and not to accept Cain’s offering was God’s decision.  Yet, jealousy and hatred came into the picture and Abel’s spilt blood cried out to the Lord.

Lot followed his uncle Abraham and in the end he lost everything.  His vast herds and flocks were gone and he was living in a town filled with a spirit of lust.  Finally, as God rained judgement down on these Sodom and Gomorrah, he even loses his wife as she glances back.  Then let’s add insult to injury.  His two remaining daughters get their father drunk and commit an act of incest resulting pregnancy with both of them.

Depression is a major occurrence in our society, yet David fought it also.  In Psalms, he states, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?”  Yet he answers himself with “Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him,” He knew his only answer was to press in the things of the Lord.  Praise was his refuge.  David’s life was anything but easy.  He was the youngest of seven, ridiculed by his brothers, faced a giant, and served a king that on numerous occasions tried to kill him.  He ran for his life, lived in caves, protected people and their herds of ungrateful people.  Yes, David encountered a lot of thorns in his rose garden walk.

Moses wanted to die on several occasions.  Elijah also had a death wish as did several others.  Daniel was falsely accused and faced a bunch of hungry lions.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace for their decision to stand for the Lord.   Paul was thrown in prison for speaking the name of Jesus.  John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos.

People throughout history have faced trouble, hardships and heartbreak.  We are no different even as Christians.  There are no magical words that we can say, or potions that we can drink that exempt us from trials in this world.  We live in the same fallen world as Adam and Eve, Abraham and David.  However, as Christians, we have something the world does not.  We have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We have a Savior, who is with us every step of the way.  In His word, He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.   He has sent the Comforter to live with us and in us.

He can turn our turmoil into peace.  Our heartbreaks can be left behind.   Our wounds are healed by a touch of His Spirit.  We may have the scars, but scars are a reminder of how far we have come.  Yes, we have a rose garden to walk in and we will encounter thorns, but in the end we will know that even in the midst of it all, He is walking with us.  He leads and guides us and helps us overcome in this walk of life.  So like David of old said, “Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. “   Place your hope in the God of your salvation.  Lift up His name even in the midst of your trouble and move forward.  Yesterday is over.  Tomorrow may never come.  Lift His Name up today and press in to all He has for you.

Just Two Little Words

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“Good Job.”  “That was good.” Etc. etc.  Every man woman and child enjoys words of encouragement.  Not words that will simply puff them up but words that will reinforce their determination to keep moving forward.  It will amaze you how much just a simple statement of praise can encourage a weary heart.

Scripture is plain that in the last days people will become thankless.  That can be seen throughout society already.   We see rioters destroying their neighbors and towns.  They are devastating the business around them and with the livelihoods, jobs and hope.  There is not a single ounce of concern for the damage being done.   We see it with actions that demand “I am number one and no one else matters.”

You might not be able to change the world but you can change your little portion of the world around you.  “Thank you!” is just two little words and easy to say.  Yet those two words could make the difference in the hearts of someone struggling.   You never know what is going on behind the scenes.  They could be ready to give up. Why, simply because they feel like they have missed the mark.  A simple thank you would make a world of difference.

It’s the Sunday school teacher who ministers to your child.  Or maybe the music director, who has leads you in praise and worship.  It might be the nursery worker or children’s church teacher – who gives up her time to keep your child so you can listen to the message.  Then there’s the pastor who spends his time studying and prayer to hear from the Lord for the message.

Saying thank you outside the church is just as important.  A simple thank you to the waitress when she refills your glass or cup can encourage someone who has been on their feet for hours.    Or to the clerk and bagger at the store, it will bring a smile to their face to know that they are just not faceless workers, but that someone cares enough to be polite and caring.  As Christians, we above everyone else have the chance to encourage and uplift the people we encounter daily.  Take a moment and think how you feel after someone thanks you for some small thing.  It’s a blessing to know you have made some small difference in someone’s life.  But as nice as that feels I want to take it a step further.

Begin your day with giving thanks to your Savior.  Thank the Lord for His many blessings.  Not matter how difficult your life is right now, you still have so much to be thankful for.  Can you read these words?  Then be thankful for your sight.  Did you eat today?  Be grateful for His provisions.  Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?  Thank Him for His eternal gift of salvation.  Thank Him for His love, compassion, mercy, and grace.  Without that, I dare say, many of us would not be here today.  That gift of love is what as interceded into many hearts that might have committed suicide.

Things might always go our way but as Christians, we have the best reason in the world to be thankful.  We are His and no one, nowhere can take that away from us.   But I have no doubt that each one of you long for the day to hear the Father say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”     Another way of saying this small phrase is “Thank you – you did a good job.”   Those few words can make a huge difference in our hearts, and in the hearts of those around us.

Which Way Now?

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“Turn left!  No, your other left!”  This is a comment heard in the vehicle many times during our trips over the years.  While I know my right and left – I often signal the wrong way when I get in a hurry.  Needless to say, we have turned around many times to correct our course.    How often do we find our self heading the wrong way in our walk through this life?  We know the steps we should take but all too often we find our turns have led us in the wrong direction again.

The same was true with Jonah.  He knew the direction to go.  He had heard the Lord clearly state “Go to Nineveh.”  Yet, you can almost hear Jonah putting on his brakes, slamming into reverse and running in the totally opposite way.   Jonah wanted to go anywhere that would help him escape from the call of God on his life.  He wanted no part of what the Lord had in store for the people of Nineveh or for his life either.  The Scriptures literally states that Jonah ran.

He jumped abroad a ship and sailed away.  Then probably to escape his own thoughts of dis-obedience, this man climbs into the lower parts of the ship.   Of course, the hold is a dark and quiet place and Jonah falls asleep.   But, as the old saying goes, you can’t outrun God.   You might twist, turn and prolong your agony but one way or the other the Lord is going to get your attention.  So, here’s Jonah- sailing away in the opposite direction from the one he is called in, fast asleep in a dark and lonely place and the Lord decides enough is enough.  He brings about a storm in Jonah’s life.  This storm is so fierce that everyone else on board faces the truth, they are doomed.

Finally, someone realized that this man was asleep below.  Impossible in this tossing rolling ship, yet there he laid.  Jonah admitted he was the source of all their troubles.  Finally, he is thrown overboard.  Everyone knows it’s the only way to save the ship.  Think about this for just a moment.  Jonah is thrown into a storm-tossed sea and somehow, someway, a fish large enough to swallow him whole is right there on the scene.   That is a moment orchestrated by the Lord, a divine appointment.

Now Jonah is a captive audience and the Lord has his undivided attention.  So the Lord and Jonah get to spend some quality time together.  Can you imagine what he looked like after three days in the stomach of this fish?  The gastric juices would have been working full time on his clothes and skin.  I heard one preacher make the statement that the only thing sicker than Jonah was the poor fish.   These three days must have seemed like a lifetime but when that fish spit Jonah out on dry land, he hit the ground running.  No matter how little he liked it, he was going to be obedient to Jehovah.  This rebellious god-less people heard the word of the Lord and repented.

Have you heard the Lord speak something into your heart, and yet like Jonah, you have ran in the other direction?  Your reasons may be different that his, but still you are not being obedient.  You make excuses and find reasons why you shouldn’t do it.  Yet, you still feel the tugging on your heart.

If you have turn and ran from God, don’t worry, it’s not too late to turn around.  Have you fallen asleep, wake up and ask the Lord to stir your heart.  If you are in the midst of the storm, listen for His voice.   You might not be in the belly of a giant fish, but let me say this – I know from experience, the Lord knows how to box you up tight.  You can’t move to the right or left.  You can’t turn around.  This box is fashioned so tight around you that you can only look up.   When you finally yield to what the Lord has laid upon your heart, such a feeling of peace and security will fall upon you.  It will be unlike anything you have imagined.  Yes, like Jonah, your heart will be filled with praise as you step into the calling of the Lord.  Jonah 2:9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.  I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

Reflection

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“Mirror, mirror on the wall.  Who’s the fairest of them all?”  Almost everyone remembers this scene from a Disney movie.   The queen wanted to be absolutely sure she was the prettiest and fairest woman in her kingdom.  Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, her actions made her quite ugly.    She failed to see the connection of her actions and how people perceived her.  The only thing that mattered to her was the voice coming from the mirror.

Of course, we don’t have magic mirrors and I don’t know of anyone who wants to be ugly or feel ugly.  But like the queen, the actions and attitudes of many take away from their inner beauty.   Years ago a handsome young man began attending our Christian school.   His family was hoping the school would be able to minister to his heart.  However, his heart attitudes and actions quickly became evident.   The worse he treated others the uglier he became, even though his facial features never changed.

I know of another young woman who is not beautiful by the world’s standards, but she glows in the love of the Lord.  Her smile brightens a room.  Why, simply because of her relationship with the Lord.  Her time spent before the Lord is evident in her face and even more so in her actions and attitude to the people around her.  She truly is a beauty and it shows constantly.

Each one of us knows people like that.  We could probably take a sheet of paper and write names on two columns.  One column would be titled “Those with a heart after God” and the other column would be “Those who are not.”   Some people would like a third column which would probably be headed up as “Fence player.”   But in all honesty, there is no fence between the two.  You are either for the Lord or you are not.  The life you are living reveals your heart.

When you look in the mirror of the Holy Spirit, what do you see?  Do you see a reflection of the Lord?  Are your ‘features’ becoming more Christ like?  Are you willing to lay aside self and seek His direction?  How do the people around you perceive you?  Are you one of the ‘fairest of the land”?  Even now, your heart will reveal the answer.

Are you prefect?  NO WAY!  None of us are.  We make mistakes every day.  We fail in our walk with the Lord.  Sin sometimes creeps in and we fall flat on our face.  But, you know what, the day isn’t over!   The opportunity to start fresh is right in front of you.  It’s simple – ask the Lord’s forgiveness.  Repent and truly mean it.   Even now He is calling out to you and listening for your cry.  Seek Him.  Seek His will for your life.  Seek Him with a whole heart.  As you seek Him, Scripture says – you will find Him.  Then when you cry our “Lord, what do You see in the mirror concerning me?”  His answer will be clear, “I see the reflection of the Fairest One in your mirror.  You are looking more like your Savior every day.  Yes, you are becoming one of the fairest in the land.  Press in!  Press in to all I have for you.”

Our Hideaway

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Every one of us has been through experiences that have inflicted pain in our life.  Face it- you got hurt!  And the bad thing is – often it was within the walls of your own church.  Too often, when that happens, our natural instinct is to walk out the door and never go back to church.  Oh not just that church – but any church.   In our little minds, we develop the mentality that “If that is what being a Christian is about then just forget it. I don’t want any part of it.”  “What a bunch of hypocrites!”  And the lists of similar thoughts go on and on.

There should be two places on this earth that we feel save.  First and foremost, we should know safety in our homes.  I am not talking about safety zones where we will not fall and break something or come into contact with dangerous chemicals.   Our homes should be a place of security from the attacks of the world.  Even in our disagreements, we should never feel like we have been shredded to pieces.  The world will kick our teeth in every single day.  However, we shouldn’t have to endure the same treatment at home.  Every Christian needs to make their home a safe zone.  Our homes, a place where loved ones and friends love to come, sit, spend time together.  The harshness of the world should never be allowed past the door frame of our homes.

In all honesty, the other place is rare and seldom known by many.  Our places of worship, our churches, should be our second place of retreat.  Many years ago, a new church started in our area.  This place might have been a church on the outside but for the members inside, it was home.  When one hurt, the others hurt with them.  At the same time, we rejoiced together, we supported one another, we laughed, we cried and we learned to allow the Lord to use each other to smooth out our rough edges.  We knew we could share our hurts, pain and shortcomings and not face ridicule but compassion.  Oh don’t get me wrong, we had the occasional conflict, but we would sit down and work out these problems together with pray and tears.  I have never seen another church like that.  I am not saying they don’t exist but I have never seen one.  Unfortunately, man got in the way of what God wanted and it died a slow death.  To this day, the memory of how much this place of worship meant to us, is both comforting and heartbreaking.

But, too often today, the conflict in the church is individuals who are determine to do their own thing and quite honestly they do not care who they hurt.  It’s is no longer about anything except what they want.  Power plays are one of the strongest destroyers of churches today.  The attitude is “I want what you have and I don’t care what I have to do to get it.”   Then there are the ones who use their words to inflict pain on someone else.  They talk about others behind their backs and are constantly stirring strife.   Too often, there is little support for those who are being used by the Lord in ministry.  Gossip, backbiting, un-forgiveness, contentions and strife are deadly to any move of the Lord.

As members of one body, we must begin to act like it.  It is not about us or what we want.  It is totally and completely about Him.  About this risen Lord we serve.  He tells us what His desires are in His Word.  He ministers His truth through His Holy Spirit.   Let the feet begin to walk the walk He has placed before them.  Let the hands reach out to minister to those that are in our path.  Let His hands touch the needs and hearts around us.  As one pastor said “Shepherds do not give birth to sheep.  Sheep give birth to sheep.”  Pastors will be the used by the Lord to help with the birthing process, but it is the body that ministers His love to the lost and the lonely.  It is the body that helps carrying the weight of the wounded and injured.  It is the body that applies the healing balm.

You can make a difference today in your places of refuge.  Take a stand and declare, ‘Chosen this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Make the declaration to include your home and your church home.   Be His vessels and create that place of refuge for the hurting souls that are looking for a safe place to lay their head.

In with the New

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Change is coming into the hearts of God’s people.  Some of these changes are intense and will lead us into paths we never thought possible. Others are smaller, but they will still produce some type of change in our lives.  However, in recent studies, I have seen a common pattern I never saw before.   This journey started in January while reading Genesis.  At the time, the Lord dropped a small tidbit about one section of Scripture.

Every single one of us sees changes throughout our life.  There is no set schedule or timeframe and yet it always occurs.  We are all aware of that fact and see it every day in some way.  However, what I saw is that with many major changes, the change occurs after a death.   Now that is a sobering fact.  How in the world can death benefit anyone?  Yet as I studied numerous situations in Scriptures, this pattern repeats numerous times.

The first example the Lord showed me was with Abram.  At the end of Genesis 11, we discover that Abram’s father, Terah had passed away.  Then in the first few verses in Genesis 12, the Lord tells Abram it is time to leave his kindred and all that was involved with his father.   Jehovah had plans, but He never asked Abram to take that step of faith until after the death of his father.   Abram caught a glimpse not only of his future, but far beyond to his descendants.  There was a land of hope and promise for the Lord’s chosen people.   The path the Lord had planned for Abraham was waiting for him, but he couldn’t make that first step until the right time.  That time came after his father had passed away.

Then just days ago I saw the same pattern in Joshua.  Joshua 1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.    Finally, the time had come for Abraham’s descendants to enter into the land promised to their forefather so long ago.  Moses was dead.  Change is coming for Joshua and this vast group of people he is leading into the Promise Land.  Joshua was no longer second in command; he was the leader for all of the Israelites.   The new leader’s had the challenge to leave the desert and cross over into their future home.

Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean someone has to die, in many cases the old man or our previous way of life has to end as the Lord creates the new in our life.  Think about Saul of Tarsus.  Here is a man intent on killing every person he could find that was serving the Lord.  He hated Christians.  Yet, when the Lord knocked the determined man down, Saul’s old way of life quickly died.  The old man Saul dies and his dramatic change even includes  a name change. Saul became Paul, a man who was totally renewed in his spirit.

Throughout Scriptures, this same pattern is repeated.  Moses and the Israelites were freed and able to leave after the death of the first born of Egypt.  Rahab’s world was turned upside down after the destruction of Jericho; she was free of her past.  Naomi and Ruth returned to Israel after the death of their husbands.   David became king after King Saul’s death.  The same is true in the New Testament; many of the examples there are people who left their old way of life behind to embrace what the Lord offered them.    Peter, Andrew, James and John leave their old fishing boats and begin fishing for men.  Matthew began giving to the people instead of collecting from them.  Each one of Jesus’ disciples left their old of life and became men who wanted to spread the Good News of Jesus.  This continues throughout the New Testament.

The old passes away and the new begins.  Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  Do you feel like you are in a wilderness?  Maybe you are so dry that the Sahara Desert looks like a beautiful, lush garden.  Your change could be just around the corner.  Even now the Lord is moving behind the scene to bring that change into your life.  Your Promise Land is just ahead.  It might be something major or a dying to self, but the outcome will spring forth.  He has promised it and He always keeps His promises.  Yep, change is on the way.  Get ready for it.

God’s Taste Buds

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Are you hungry and thirsty for more of the Lord?  Do you long for more in your relationship with your Savior?  Are you finding that just feeding on the sermon on a Sunday morning is just not working anymore?  Do you find yourself studying the Word more and thinking about it more in depth?  Are you praying and talking to the Lord throughout the day?  Prayerfully the answers to these questions are a resounding YES!

According to most pastors, we are living in the timeframe of the Laodicea church age.  The issue the Lord had with them was a simple but deadly one.  They were lukewarm!  They had lost their zeal and fire for the Lord.  They performed their religious traditions and for all appearances seemed like a church on the move.  Or perhaps they used various programs trying to stir up the hearts of the people around them/.  No matter what method was used, it wasn’t working and the Lord saw the truth of their walk with Him.  They were neither hot nor cold but just lukewarm.

Have you ever taken time to think about what lukewarm really means?  If you are an avid coffee drinker, more than likely you want your cup of java as hot as you can stand it.  Over the years, how many times have you taken that first sip and sighed “AHHH”.  But if the cup cools down, most people will refill it to warm the liquid back up.  The thought of drinking it lukewarm is totally unacceptable.  And their AHHH quickly turns to UGGGH!   The same is true of individuals who drink milk, the colder the better.  Room temperature milk is just as disgusting as lukewarm coffee; neither is appealing.

The same is true of us, the Lord desires His children to be hot.  He wants our heart searching after all that He is.  The Lord desires a people who want more in their relationship with Him.  They aren’t content with just having “fire insurance” to keep them out of Hell.  Their hunger and thirst goes beyond the meetings at church.  They are searching for more.  The more they press in, the more they want.  They are hungry and thirsty and only digging deeper into the things of the Lord satisfies those cravings.

The consequences of being lukewarm before the Lord should be a terrifying thought to every heart that serves Him.  Another word for lukewarm is half-heartedness or being indifferent.  If our heart is in this condition God states that He will spit us out of His mouth.  He hates His children being lukewarm.  He hates it so much that is literally leaves a horrible taste in His mouth.

The question is how do we increase the fire in our hearts for the Lord?  By digging into His Word, studying and seeking answers to your questions? One method could be studying different words like love or grace.  Another is spending time before Him in prayer, not only asking for ‘things’ or the needs of others.  They are important but more importantly thanking the Lord for who He is and what He has accomplished in our life.  Singing His praises and rejoicing in who  He is in our life and what He is doing in our hearts now draws us closer than ever to the Lord.  Yes, we are a people who have been blessed and have much to rejoice in.  If you are lukewarm, strive to become hot before the Lord again.  Stir the embers of your heart.  Examine your heart and ask Him to touch our life.  He waits for you even now.  Seek after more of Him today and even more tomorrow.  Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe upon the embers of your heart again.

Rev 3:15 & 16, I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Let Me Help

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“You will never know how much that touched my heart.”  These few words spoken by a friend or even a stranger can touch even the hardest of hearts.  Our reaction should always be a heartfelt humbleness.  Why?  In all honesty, no matter how we ministered to someone; we need to face the fact that we are simply a vessel in the hand of the Lord.  It is never about us.  It is always to and for His glory.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you were mentally alert and yet a prisoner in your own body.    You are dependent on others for all of your needs.   You are at their mercy.   We see that very event in Mark 2.  One man was trapped in his body confined on his bedding and had been laying there for years.  He had palsy, another words he was paralyzed and unable to fend for himself.   The Scripture doesn’t reveal the length of time but one section makes it appears he had been in that condition for quite a while.

Put yourself in his position for a few minutes. You have lain on this bedding day after day for years.  Suddenly a commotion is stirring all around you.   Everyone is excited. They are shouting and running in the direction of one home in town.  Over the noise you hear one name ‘Jesus’.  Jesus is here – in this town.  But, honestly, what good does it do you.  Jesus isn’t coming to your house.  He is down the road.  Hopelessness fills your every fiber.  If only…, but no there are no ‘if only…’ in your life.  You are trapped on this pallet and always would be.

Then suddenly, four heads turn the corner and head straight for you.  Each friend grabs a corner of your pallet and lifts you up.  Question after question fills your mouth.  “What are you guys doing? Why aren’t you at the house where Jesus is?”  Every second bring the five of you closer to Jesus.  Then reality sets back in; there is absolutely no chance to get inside.   Every window and door was filled to capacity.  Hopelessness once more fills your heart.

Fortunately your friends don’t allow your defeatist attitude to hinder them.  Looking around the house, one of them spots a way into the house, up through the roof.  It was going to be tricky, but each one is willing to give it their all.  They see a chance for your life to be different.  They have heard the reports of the healings.  Blindness, deafness and various diseases are cured with a simple touch of the Teacher’s hands.   So upward they pressed.   They push and tug with the dead weight of their friend.  But they don’t mind.  Finally, at the top, these loyal friends continue to push aside the remaining hindrance.  The roof is pulled away and once more these four friends pull and tug on the pallet.

Jesus watches the dedication of these four friends.   Each one has their own needs and yet they willingly lays aside self.  Their desire is to see you healed, to see you walking uprightly before Jesus.   Their faith carries you to the one person who can restore every cell in your body.  They carried you to Jesus.  An old song from years ago sums it up perfectly “The Faith of A Few Close Friends”.

Do you have the faith to carry your friend into the presence of the Lord today?  Are you willing to lay aside self and intercede for their need?  You can be used by the Lord to minister to those around you as much today as those four friends who carried the paralytic all those years ago.  You can be a willing vessel that will bring healing to another.  It might not be a physical healing, but it may be a spiritual or an emotionally healing.  Your few words of encouragement could be the very ones that encourage them to reach out to the Lord in their need.  Allow the Lord to stir in your heart today how He wants to use you in the hearts of those around you.  Be that friend with the faith that will make a difference in their life.

Look Out Below

1

“This is unbelievable.  He is stepping out on the wire right now.  Imagine crossing this thin wire with only a balancing pole and absolutely no net.  If he falls, there is no chance of survival.”  The announcer spoke softly into his microphone.  He did not want to distract the walker in this serious and potentially dangerous situation.  The crowd whispers as softly as a large crowd possible can.  Suddenly a gust of wind blows through as the tightrope walker sways trying to regain his shaky balance.   The crowd sharply inhales holding their breath.   He leans to the right and then gently turns back to the left regaining his balance and completes the dangerous feat.  The crowd shouts and rejoices.  They could proudly say “I was there.”

We have seen and heard of these events for years.  People who love to live on the edge and are willing to step into dangerous situations.  Unfortunately, there are people within the Christian realm who are walking on a tightrope also.  They balance their walk with the weight of the world on one end of their balancing pole and their desire to serve the Lord on the other.   They are trying to live in both worlds, but they fail to realize – there is absolutely no wire or fence to straddle.  You are either on one side or the other side.  There is no middle ground.

They have met with the Lord in a powerful way and yet as much as they want to live the Christian life, they are drawn time and again back into their old ways.  They try to distance themselves from the old gang who pulls them back down and yet the memories of “the good old times” keep pulling them back into that crowd.  It seems like the weight of the world on their pole is winning to battle.

Others are willing to leave the old friends and most of the old habits behind, but somehow an old secret habit or sin begins sneaking back into the picture.  The old begins replacing the new, then shame and guilt comes into the picture.  Finally, condemnation pushes out all sound reasoning.  It is hopeless, and they can’t see their way back.  There is no way the Lord would take them back now.  It was too late.  They give up and surrender to the hopelessness and despair.

Still others want to have their cake and eat it too.  They want to dabble in all the ‘it’s not all that bad’ things around.  They want to dress and act like the Jones.  It’s all about fun and games.  There is no time for God in their life but they love to talk the talk.  But let’s face it – there’s no time to walk the walk.  They struggle with the distance between them and the Lord.  Yet how, how can they return to that place of closeness?  Once more the pole is leaning in the wrong direction as their attention is drawn to the worldly side again.

Then there are those who dapple with things that the Lord has strictly forbidden.  Their excuse – well everyone else is doing it.  “That’s how it was in the old days.  It’s acceptable now!”  The Word of God is made void in their life by the choices they make.  They forget that they serve a holy and just Lord.  He longs to see our hearts upright but the choice is ours.  Do we walk in His path or do we play on a path that is not of His choosing?

Think of it like this.  The Lord is on your right side, and the world is on your left side.  If you fall to the right, there is no question that you will fall into the arms of the Lord.  But, if you fall to the left, you are in danger.  There is no one in the world that is willing to reach out and save you.  Each one of us has a free will.  We can choose to draw closer to the Lord by laying self and the weight of the world aside.   His Word promises to light the path where we place our feet.  If your heart is leaning toward the weight of the world, than you are in danger.   Ask the Lord to help you balance your life back out.  Seek His face and realize that He is waiting for you even now.