Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Unusual in the Usual Place

The friends stood outside the crowded house in Capernaum where Jesus visited. They wondered how they would ever manage to get their friend born with palsy near Jesus.  Determined to have an opportunity to seek help for him, these men literally raised the roof to lower their friend toward Jesus.

Jesus oddly enough, praised the faith of the paralyzed man and granted him forgiveness for his sins.  The friends sought physical healing, but Jesus sensed a need for something greater than walking.  Immediately, Jesus sensed the disapproval of the Scribes present in the crowd and challenged them with a question.  “Which is easier to say?  Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk.”

This rhetorical question really needed no answer.  Think about it though.  It’s easier to say your sins are forgiven, because if it didn’t really happen, no one but the intended receiver would know.  When we receive the gift of forgiveness we alone know the power and inward healing of those words.  It isn’t until we live in light of those words and display the transforming power of those words that others can know we received it.

Jesus understood the logic of their thought process as well as ours. Therefore, to prove His ability to forgive sins to the crowd, He told the paralytic man to pick up his mat and walk.  The immediate physical healing revealed the power Jesus possesses to change a person’s life forever.

Witnessing physical healing would increase anyone’s faith, wouldn’t it?  Believe it or not, sometimes is does but others times it doesn’t.  Like those in Jesus’ day, we’re prone to skepticism, too.  We don’t expect something extra-ordinary to take place.  We look for the predictable, those things we can produce in our own power, or those things that make us comfortable.  Many times we miss seeing what the Lord can do or is doing, because we only see what we expect to see.  If we could develop a keener eye for the unusual, we might actually begin to recognize the Lord’s presence more.

Journey with me now, down memory lane, to the place of discovering again how the Lord did the unusual in the usual places.  My memories instantly gravitate to the early 90’s when my husband decided to leave his secular job and finish his education in preparation for full-time ministry.  We lived in Eastern Pennsylvania in our first home with four children ranging in the ages of one to eight. 

In a step of faith we put our house up for sale at a time when homes around us had been on the market for a year or more.  The Lord sold our home in one month.  So, we packed up everything we could carry into a homemade trailer and stayed in a mobile home provided by friends for six weeks so my husband could finish up his employment.  We then headed to Texas to stay with my husband’s parents for the Christmas holidays.

At the first of the year, with no acceptance letter from Moody Bible Institute yet, my husband headed to Chicago for registration day and was immediately given admission.  Later that day he located an apartment for our family that had the one thing I prayed for, a washer and dryer.  The day the children and I arrived I made some calls to locate a church in our area with an AWANA program for my children.  Several calls later, I spoke to the AWANA leader who informed me that one of their members lived on my street, a second specific prayer I asked the Lord for with this move. Our year in Chicago was rich with opportunities of fun and fellowship because of this gift of friendship.

One Saturday in the summer of that year my youngest son cracked open his head on a coffee table, and a trip to the emergency room required internal as well as external stitches.  On Monday we received an anonymous check in the mail from the church we previously attended in Pennsylvania that covered the entire hospital bill.  A year later the Lord provided a second anonymous check to pay the entire hospital bill of a second son’s injury within twenty-four hours of the accident. 

The Lord never stopped watching over us and during our mid-thirties we returned to the East coast for a few years after the death of my father.  My husband returned to his previous job for a time until the Lord opened up a different job for him as he also gave my husband the opportunity to be the pastor of a new church plant.  As this new ministry began the Lord provided a large facility for only fifty dollars a week, a professionally made church sign for free, money for needed tables, and an organization the provided free food for the food pantry we started for the less fortunate in the area.

If these unusual events were not enough to boost our faith we also saw my husband’s father receive an instant healing from an x-ray confirmed broken neck.  A couple weeks later my husband went into shock after a thousand pound furnace fell on his thigh, but he walk out of the emergency room hours with only a bruise.

The Lord never stopped doing these kind of unusual things for us.  Most recently, He provided us with a mansion on a hill to rent while we settled into our new ministry.  For over five months we have been able to overlook the Mississippi River with its beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  We had the joy of hosting an Easter sunrise service and meal in our home with over sixty in attendance, and every month a group of ladies gather together for great fun and fellowship. 

What about you?  Close your eyes and let your mind wander down memory lane to the times you can see the Lord doing unusual things in the usual places.  Each memory provides you with a moment in time when the Lord wanted you to recognize His presence with you.  Tell Jesus thank you for showing you His presence and share your memory with someone else.  May we always help one another see Jesus in the usual places.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Believing the Impossible


     Matthew 19 told the story of a man described not only as young but rich.  He approached Jesus about what he needed to do to obtain eternal life.  Despite what he had already possessed, he lacked the confidence about his eternal destination.  His question indicated his belief in a life beyond this one.  
     Jesus quoted several of the Ten Commandments, and the man confidently responded about his obedience to them.  However, unsatisfied with the idea that this might help him, he asked Jesus what else he lacked.  Seeing the deepest issues of this man’s heart, Jesus challenged him to sell all he owned and give all the money to the poor and come follow Him.  With deep sorrow, the man departed.
     The man received the call to be Jesus’ thirteenth disciple but didn’t accept the offer.  It proved the sad truth on how money will be our master if the Lord isn’t.   With his departure, Jesus informed the disciples the way riches caused difficulties for the wealthy.  The disciples and the rich young man must have assumed that money could buy anything, even eternal life.  Jesus’ comment bothered the disciples, and they questioned Jesus on who could inherit eternal life if the rich had trouble.  Jesus assured them that the Lord accomplished that which is impossible for man.
     The word “impossible” conjures up different thoughts and emotions for each one of us.  For some, it spurs on the desire to prove the naysayer in our lives wrong.  For others, it generates a sense of hopelessness of ever overcoming the mistakes of their past.  Yet for those of faith, it hopefully stirs up excitement and anticipation.
     The naysayer and those feeling hopeless might ask these kind questions and respond this way:
Can something really be created from nothing?  Can good truly come from being sold into slavery? Can waters really part a large river and make the land passable? Can an army march around a city wall and bring it down? Well, of course not. Impossible.
Can a king who committed adultery and murder be a true friend of God? Can a young boy slay a giant with just a sling and stone? Can a donkey talk about seeing an army of angels? Can someone be thrown into a fire and come out of it without a burn? Well, of course not. Impossible.
Can someone walk on water? Can water be transformed into wine?Can two fish and five loaves of bread feed 5,000 hungry men with all their wives and children? Can someone decay in the grave for three days and then come back alive again? Well, of course not. Impossible.
Can a tax collector return five times the amount he stole from others? Can one who had five husband and lives with a sixth make better choices? Can a friend who denied knowing you, turn around and sacrifice his life for you? Can one who murders Christians ever change? Well, of course not.  Impossible.
     Yet, we know the Scriptures tell us all these things took place and by faith, we believe these incidents are true.  However, what do we believe the Lord can do today?  Is He that same God able to do what no one else can do in us and through us?
     Do we believe people can be transformed in the way they think, speak, and act? Do we believe there is “No Condemnation” for the one who knows and loves Jesus? Do we believe in a power that enables us to forgive our enemies and extend mercy and grace toward them? Do we believe we can truly love those who refuse to return our love? Well, of course.  We depend on it.
     Do we believe we can receive healing physically, spiritually, and emotionally? Do we believe someone can be rescued from addictions? Do we believe marriages can be healed? Do we believe we can have joy in difficult circumstances? Well, of course.  We depend on it.
     Do we have the confidence Paul displayed to the Philippians when he said, “He who began a good work will complete it”?  On our own, we’re powerless to change our ways.  Instead we need to recognize the habits and unhealthy responses and seek the Lord for their removal. 
For my life I choose to believe He is in the process of:
·       Making me a woman who loves Him with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.
·       Making me a joyful woman despite my circumstances.
·       Making me a woman who strives to please the Lord over people.
·       Making me a humble woman wholly submitted to His will and way.
·       Making me a woman of the Word.
·       Making me a woman devoted to prayer.
·       Making me a free woman of my past.
·       Making me a woman who listens more and talks less.
·       Making me a grateful woman.
·       Making me a woman of encouragement, grace, and forgiveness.
·       Making me a giving woman without expecting anything in return.
·       Making me a contented woman.
·       Making me a woman who obsesses on those things that honor the Lord only.
·       Making me a non-gossiping woman.
·       Making me a woman who draws others to the Lord.
·       Making me a compassionate and merciful woman.
·       Making me a woman filled and controlled by His Spirit.
·       Making me a woman of truth.
·       Making me a woman who loves like Him.
·       Making me a woman who understands her value, worth, and purpose.
·       Making me a woman of courage and strength.

     Do any of these desires resonate with you?  What do you want to begin believing the Lord for today?  Write them down and daily ask the Lord to make you a person who honors Him in everything you think, say, and do.

@copyright 2013