Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Right Time and Purpose

He entered the world blind and now was fully grown.  He only knew darkness from the moment his mother gave birth to him. The Scriptures tell us that his blindness was not caused by the sin of his parents or by the sins of the man.  His blindness from the foundation of time had the sole purpose of glorifying the Lord.

This  man didn't receive beforehand the heads up on the Lord's reason for his blindness.  An angel had not warned his parents about their son's future to one day receive sight.  They didn't receive any vision regarding the purpose this happened to their son.  They carried these unanswered questions with them throughout the years.  Would they have of lived any differently if they had been told what the future held?

The Lord healed the man when the time was right for the Lord to be glorified.  No matter what our difficulties are in life, they serve the same purpose.  We wait on the Lord for His perfect plan and in it give glory to Him.  He is completely trustworthy with every aspect of our lives and may we honor Him with it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Other Three Fingers

The woman was dragged before Jesus by the Religious leaders of the day. They told Him that she had been caught in the act of adultery.  This incident raises many questions. The most obvious one would be about her partner in this crime.  Where was he?  Was he among her accusers?

Jesus addresses the reality regarding the pointing fingers of her accusers by granting permission to stone her if they were without sin.  Jesus bends down and begins to write something in the sand.  Did He write various sins they committed?  We can only guess.  We only know that beginning with the eldest man present, they all left. The only one that remained with the woman was the One without sin who could have stoned her.  Jesus urges the woman to sin no more (John 8:1-11).

This incident was not about the woman as much as it was about the sinful attitudes of the Religious leaders. They didn't actually care about the sin this woman committed.  It was another one of their attempts to set Jesus up for a fall.  Their pride and distrust of Jesus' methods for dealing with sinful people didn't appeal to them.

We learn from Jesus' response that pointing fingers at the sins of others needs a reality check.  The remaining three  fingers point toward the heart of the accuser.  When we point our fingers at the sins and failings of others may we glance down at our hand and recognize the nudging of the three pointing back at us to examine the condition of our own heart.

Casting Crowns sings the song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners, with a message for believers in this day and age to understand.  Jesus wants us to fully comprehend  mercy, grace, and forgiveness so that we might extend it toward others.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

From the Beginning

Rejection reminds us that we live in a broken world. Experiencing it comes from Adam's decision to disregard the Lord's only restriction in the garden.  As soon as Adam ate the fruit he experienced the emotions of guilt and shame.  Adam then hid from the Lord when He arrived for His daily walk.

The Lord called out to Adam with a question regarding his whereabouts.  The Lord knew the answer, but Adam needed to fess up to what took place and the fear he now felt in his relationship with the Lord.

Rejection breathed out of his words when Adam blamed the woman given to him by the Lord.  Adam must have reasoned in his thoughts that it would have turned out differently if the Lord hadn't placed this woman in the garden with him.  Did the option of being alone without a helpmate suddenly appeal to him instead of facing his own responsibility for the shame of the nakedness of how he now felt? (Genesis 3)

How this cycle has continued throughout history. When we avoid responsibility for our sinful choices that hurt others, we birth distrust and ultimately rejection into our relationships.  As we put up our hands and walk away without any attempts to be at peace with those we have sinned against or refuse to forgive those who sinned against us, we perpetuate in our hearts the ability to continually repeat this cycle of rejection in our lives and those around us.

Balking responsibility and blaming others for our sinful reactions creates distrust in the heart.  When we ignore sins and pretend offenses never happened, then the pain caused by it festers into bitterness, anger, and an unforgiving spirit.  Suddenly, wounded people lash out in defensiveness and wound others.  The longer sin is left unchecked, the better chance it has to give birth to torture within the spirit and eventually death to relationships, even new ones.

We need to seek the Lord for the eyes of our hearts to be opened to the truth regarding the toll that passing the buck has on our emotional and spiritual health.  May we not cast blame on others but instead take ownership to our sins.  When we rid our lives of distrust, fear, and pride, then we can  revel in a healing that fills our lives with peace, and joy. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Return Home

The young man possessed everything he needed, and yet he yearned something else.  Whatever he wanted, he didn't see it coming from his father.  Perhaps he felt his father was holding out on him.  Demanding what he felt he deserved, the young man took his half of his inheritance and hit the road. (Luke 15:11-32)

Freely, the father handed over the younger son's portion of his inheritance and let him leave.  He didn't attempt to convince him to stay or chase after him when he left.  The father released him but kept watch with open arms for the day he might return.

We hold no guarantee for the return of those who wish to leave us, but may we learn from the prodigal son's father to wait with receptive arms if they do.  May we also remember that our Heavenly Father desires for us to willingly return to his unconditional love and acceptance when we've moved away from it.

He has withheld nothing good from us.  Our best is always on the forefront of His heart.  We just need to come to our senses and recognize it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taking the First Step

Zacchaeus had several disadvantages the day Jesus came through his town.  His statute alone could have prevented him from getting the desired glimpse of Jesus because of the large crowd gathered around Jesus that day.  Zacchaeus determined to see Jesus even from a distance, climbed a sycamore tree instead of surrendering to his circumstances. A glance from the tree was all he thought he needed that day.

However, we are told that Jesus "saw" Zacchaeus, called up to him in the tree to come down, and invited Himself to Zacchaeus' home. He joyfully welcomed Jesus and then when confronted with his sins as a dishonest tax collector, he repented.  Zacchaeus so aware of his sinfulness against the  Lord and his fellow men sought to repay quadruple the amount he had taken (Luke 19:1-10).

Zacchaeus only believed he needed a glimpse of Jesus from a tree that day, but  the Lord knew he needed so much more.  Jesus saw a desire in Zacchaeus and took him to the next level.  Are we willing to take the necessary steps in the right direction?  The Lord faithful comes to us when we take the initiative.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What are You Drinking?

When the temperature outside is hot, then the most refreshing beverage would be one served with gobs of ice.  It soothes the parched lips and mouth, and renews the energy level.

However, on a freezing cold day when one might have shoveled tons of snow away, a hot beverage warms one from the tip of the toes to the top of their head.  With both drinks there is the sense that all is truly good in the world.

John gives a serious warning when illustrating that a lukewarm drink just makes a person want to puke (Rev. 3:16).  It neither refreshes nor soothes the spirit.  It accomplishes absolutely nothing.  It has no value whatsoever to one truly thirsty and needing a drink.

In fact, John drives an important point home to this particular church in Laodicea about their blindness regarding their true spiritual condition.  Believing themselves to be wealthy and without need, they are actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17).

One might wonder, was John talking about American Christianity today?  Does the Lord see us and want to vomit us out? We are a nation in need of great healing, and that will come when those who are called by His name humble themselves and pray (2 Chron. 7:14).  It begins with me and you, if we are willing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Worthy of Praise Always

Job received news that not only did he lose his physical wealth, but all of his children died, too. To humans it appeared to be several freak accidents all in one tragic day in the life of Job.

However, we receive a glimpse into heaven, something Job didn't have the privilege to possess.  We see that in the hands of the Lord permission had been granted for Satan to take it all from Job.

The treasure in this story is Job's immediate response.  Tearing his clothing in deep grief he says, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21).

The Lord entrusted the enemy with Job's character.  He allowed the enemy to inflict a deep physical pain on Job, too.  Job's friends comforted him at first, but suddenly they pointed fingers of condemnation in his direction. They determined some sin must be the cause of Job's suffering.

Like Job, we remain clueless to the reasons the Lord may allow our lives to be touched deeply with suffering. However, if like Job, we haven't sinned, may we like Job respond with trust and praise.  Whether the  Lord gives or takes away, He is worthy of our trust and praise.

Where We are At

We tend to come down hard on ourselves when we realize we have not arrived.  We want progress, but often times get caught up in our old habits and ways of responding to things.  We wonder at times if the Lord has just put up His hands and given up on us.

The story of Thomas (John 20:24-31) reminds us that the Lord is willing to meet us where we are at and stays with us in our some times snail walk forward.  The Lord could have forced Thomas to believe without seeing, but His tender heart toward Thomas and us, shows us that He was willing to meet Thomas where He was in his doubting.

Jesus made the second appearance when Thomas was present and invited Thomas to touch and see that indeed He had risen from the dead.  Oh sure, Jesus commends the one who believes without seeing, but he doesn't disregard the one who needs to see.

We must never forget that the Lord knows what we need.  He sees.  He will meet us where we are at and will journey with us to new levels of faith.  We must not give up because the Lord doesn't give up on us.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Need to be Quieted

Zephaniah 3:17 says that the Lord "quiets us with His love."  He invites us onto His lap.  He wraps His arms around us.  He sees the hurt.  Even when we are over-reacting, He doesn't push us away until we get a grip.  His desire is to be with us in those emotional states in order to bring the healing we need from whatever pains us.

Often times we don't recognize His presence with us in the dark times.  However, He is there.  We need to ask Him to open the eyes of our heart and help us recognize His open arms and invitation to quiet our hurting spirits with His love.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Life is Hard

Often times when life gets difficult and we stress out from it, we find that the shoulder we need has disappeared.  The extent of our emotions and the drama that accompanies it causes people to flee.

When all others find it difficult to handle us in this type of state, Jesus invites us to Himself.  These times are when He wants us most.  He wants us to understand that no amount of emotion will keep Him away from us.  He wants to enable us to work through it and find Him in it all.

In fact, His promise to us in Matthew 11:28 is the opposite of what humans can handle.  He says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  He doesn't want us to wait until we have our act together to be near us.  In the storm, He wants to walk with us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Take a Step

The man was born blind.  He had no idea what it meant to see the faces of those he loved.  One day, while Jesus is passing his way, he is noticed by Jesus. Jesus puts mud on his eyes and tells him to go wash it off in the pool of Siloam.  The man does as he is instructed and receives his sight.  (John 9:1-11)

Do we miss out on what the Lord intends for us because we're unwilling to take the steps to the pool to wash the mud from our eyes? Let us wash the mud from our eyes so we can see!