Long time coming

Jesus crossed the lake again, and on the other side a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders, came forward. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded with him, “My daughter is about to die. Please, come and place your hands on her so that she can be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A swarm of people were following Jesus, crowding in on him.  A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot under the care of many doctors, and had spent everything she had without getting any better. In fact, she had gotten worse. Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. Her bleeding stopped immediately, and she sensed in her body that her illness had been healed. At that very moment, Jesus recognized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples said to him, “Don’t you see the crowd pressing against you? Yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But Jesus looked around carefully to see who had done it. The woman, full of fear and trembling, came forward. Knowing what had happened to her, she fell down in front of Jesus and told him the whole truth. He responded, “Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace, healed from your disease.” ~Mark 5:21-34 (CEB)

There are times where we find ourselves completely powerless. In the beginning we received sympathy and support but when things get drug out we find people starting to drift away and even begin to avoid us. We search many places looking for healing only to find no help. When we find ourselves alone after all we have done to try to heal ourselves we, like the woman who didn’t want to bring attention to her wounds, try to sneak in our healing. We want this to be just between us and God.

Jesus didn’t want the woman to remain behind her mask. If he allowed her healing to have remained secret she could not have been restored to the community. She would have remained taboo to her friends and family. Jesus wanted her community to see that she was healed and restored to wholeness. He wanted her to step out from behind her mask of sickness. He wanted her to be restored to Life.

There are times we feel that Jesus has passed us by when prayers have been sent up for healing. Maybe things don’t unfold as quickly as we wanted or through the means we had envisioned. But we need to have the faith and hope of this woman. We need to be open to the possibilities.

Heavenly Father, when answers don’t come as quickly or in the way I would like for them to come, please give me the strength to continue walking with faith and hope. May I have your strength to hold on until your healing comes. Amen.

Lean not on my own understanding

Herod the king heard about these things, because the name of Jesus had become well-known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and this is why miraculous powers are at work through him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the ancient prophets.” But when Herod heard these rumors, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised to life.” He said this because Herod himself had arranged to have John arrested and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. Herod had married her, but John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry your brother’s wife!” So Herodias had it in for John. She wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t. This was because Herod respected John. He regarded him as a righteous and holy person, so he protected him. John’s words greatly confused Herod, yet he enjoyed listening to him.  Finally, the time was right. It was on one of Herod’s birthdays, when he had prepared a feast for his high-ranking officials and military officers and Galilee’s leading residents. Herod’s daughter Herodias came in and danced, thrilling Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the young woman, “Ask me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” Then he swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give to you, even as much as half of my kingdom.” She left the banquet hall and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” Herodias replied. Hurrying back to the ruler, she made her request: “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a plate, right this minute.” Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests, he didn’t want to refuse her. So he ordered a guard to bring John’s head. The guard went to the prison, cut off John’s head, brought his head on a plate, and gave it to the young woman, and she gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came and took his dead body and laid it in a tomb. ~Mark 6:14-29 (CEB)

In real life, the story doesn’t always end with “They lived happily ever after”. John gave his life for God. He never backed down from what needed to be said. He gave his all for God. He gave his life. The story doesn’t always end like it did for Daniel in the lion’s den or as it did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They had great faith and stood up for what they believed and it all turned out right for them in the end.

I also can’t help but think of Paul. He tells us in his second letter to the Corinthians that there is something that he continually struggles with. He has prayed for it to be removed, but God didn’t. (2Co 12:7-10) Sometimes God asks us to live through or with a circumstance. Sometimes the answer is not deliverance this side of heaven.

Most of the time when we pray, we pray for God to do something to us or for us, But God wants to do something in us and through us. I have to remember that God sees time differently than me. I have to trust that He is working all things together for my good (Jer. 29:11) even when it doesn’t feel like he is, even when I don’t receive an answer to prayer in the way that I want it to be answered.

My part of the picture is giving my cooperation for God to work through me. God gives His self to us for His purpose only as we give ourselves to God. God does not ask me to give up who I am but for the death of self-centeredness. God asks that despite my circumstances that I allow myself to be used for His service. When I give my all in service to Him my story does have a happy ending. It might be different than the worlds’ view of the happily ever after version but when I do His will, my story in the end is happy one with Him forever in heaven.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. –Reinhold Niebuhr

Truth is…

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? ~Jeremiah 8:22 (NIV)

“Can we only speak when we are fully living what we are saying?  If all our words had to cover all our actions, we would be doomed to permanent silence!  Sometimes we are called to proclaim God’s love even when we are not yet fully able to live it.  Does that mean we are hypocrites?  Only when our own words no longer call us to conversion.  Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions.  But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak.  As long as we know that our lives always will speak louder than our words, we can trust that our words will remain humble.”~ Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

Sometimes the words I speak are not the things I feel. Sometimes the smile on my face does not disclose the pain that lives inside. Sometimes the truth I speak is still struggling to take hold in my heart.

While I struggle with living the truths that I know, that doesn’t make them any less real. I know that I am a beloved child of God, even if I don’t always “feel” that love. Does that make me a hypocrite that I profess God’s love when I don’t always feel it myself? No I really don’t think so. I can’t always trust my feelings. I have to remember the truths I know. Gradually I grow into these truths. Slowly I move more toward the convictions I profess. With great humility I continue to spout that I am simply a human with a vision of one day completely feeling that Love that I know I already surrounds me.

“How long will you forget me, LORD? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I be left to my own wits, agony filling my heart? Daily? How long will my enemy keep defeating me? Look at me! Answer me, LORD my God! Restore sight to my eyes! Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I won!” My foes will rejoice over my downfall. But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Yes, I will sing to the LORD because he has been good to me.” ~Psalm 13 (RSV)

Heavenly Father, I ask You this day to so surround me with Your love that all question of its existence cannot survive. I know that there is a balm in Jesus Christ that will heal my sin sick soul.

Shelter in the desert

Jacob left Beer- sheba and set out for Haran. He reached a certain place and spent the night there. When the sun had set, he took one of the stones at that place and put it near his head. Then he lay down there. He dreamed and saw a raised staircase, its foundation on earth and its top touching the sky, and God’s messengers were ascending and descending on it. Suddenly the LORD was standing on it and saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will become like the dust of the earth; you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. Every family of earth will be blessed because of you and your descendants. I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.” ~Gen. 28:10-15

Jacob had tricked his brother Esau out of his inheritance and his blessing. Esau was so angry at Jacob that Jacob feared for his very life. So he ran away. This scripture starts with Jacob running for his life; he is scared, tired, lonely, and feeling guilty for what he has done. He knows that he has really messed things up.

When night came, Jacob was tired so he just laid down on the ground using a rock as a pillow. When he fell asleep he had a dream. In his dream he saw a ladder reaching from the earth all the way to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending the ladder. At the top of this ladder was God.

God reached out to Jacob through this dream. I think God spoke to Jacob in his dream because Jacob knew he had messed up pretty badly, he had little hope for his future and he was scared for his safety. He was in need of some good news.

In the dream God told Jacob a few things:
-God told Jacob that the land Jacob was laying on was for him and for his children (hope).
-God told Jacob that his children and his children’s children and his children’s, children’s children would spread all over the earth and all the families of the earth will be blessed through them (future).
-And this is my favorite part—God said these words to Jacob, “know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go” (security).

I make many mistakes living in this world. There are times I wonder how God could ever forgive me. But this story reminds me that God does love me even at my worst. Even more, God keeps his promises. They are not dependent on my actions. And despite the mistakes I make God can still use me.

O Lord, You alone are my hope, my future and my security. I place my trust in You. You are my rock of refuge where I can always escape. My praise is always about You. Amen.

Joy comes in the morning

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 (NRSV)
Sometimes the “dark of night” can bleed into day light hours. During these times it can feel so hard to hold onto the truths that I know. Even though I have taken a stand against a spirit of fear, though I’ve prayed for the truth to be revealed and that I not make things to be more than they really are, anxiety doesn’t always fly away instantly.

There is a moment of clarity though. The overwhelming clouds of doubt, fear and confusion do roll away. The peace that I prayed so diligently for does begin to light up the sky. Have my problems vanished? No, my situation has not changed but the attack on my sanity is gone. I still have to continue the work I know is ahead of me. With the rays of light that begin to light my horizon I know that the endurance the Bible promises me is filling my soul. Sweet breaths of air are drifting through me as the burden seems lighter to carry. The “joy that comes in the morning” is that peace that passes all understanding.

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to walk with me when I wander through dark times. Thank You for your Holy Spirit that gives me air so I can breathe. Thank You for the power of Jesus’ name that empowers me to endure the toughest storms that I may know the joy of the morning. Amen.

I can’t bear this on my own

I can’t bear this people on my own. They’re too heavy for me. ~Numbers 11:14

Sometimes life is just more than I can handle. Some days it is all I can do to manage what I need to do for that day. In reading Numbers chapter 11 we read where Moses is feeling overwhelmed with leading the Israelites. They aren’t happy with the fact that God has been providing them just manna to eat. Now they are complaining that they want meat to eat too. Moses cries out to God in verse 13, “Where am I to get meat for all these people? They are crying before me and saying, ‘Give us meat, so we can eat’.”

The first thing Moses did when he realized he had come to the end of his rope in this situation was to admit, “I can’t bear this people on my own. They’re too heavy for me.” This allowed God to say, “I can!” The problem was bigger than Moses but once he allowed God into the situation it allowed God to go to work.

I often forget that God is waiting on the sidelines for me to call out to Him for my needs. God wants to work in my life but He isn’t going to come into the situation without my invitation. I first need to call out to God, “Help, this is more than me!” I need to realize Who can get the job done and then I need to let Him.

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that You are my God and I ask You into my life this day to help me through this day. Amen.

Betrayed

It’s not an enemy that is insulting me— I could handle that. It’s not someone who hates me who is exalted over me— I could hide from them. No. It’s you, my equal, my close companion, my good friend! ~Psalm 55:12-13 (CEB)

There is nothing worse in the world than to be betrayed by a friend. A friend, a close friend is someone you trust, someone you expect to be there for you in good times and bad. No one can hurt you more than a dear friend. When you have been betrayed by a friend the hurt goes so deep that you feel like you could never trust anyone ever again. You feel so alone with your feelings of hurt and betrayal. No one could ever know what you are going through.

But you are not alone. Jesus was sold out by a kiss. His betrayal led him to the cross. Peter, one of his closest friends, denied him not just once but three times. All the disciples fled in fear. Jesus was left alone. In the moment he needed a friend the most he found himself without even the dearest friends. They were all gone.

I don’t think I have ever been in a place where I have felt such complete abandonment. I have felt the sting of losing a friend that I thought I could trust but once the pain subsided some I realize that I was not as alone as I thought. But for Jesus there was no one. The hardest thing for me about this story of betrayal and abandonment is that Jesus foreknew what was to come. He did not walk into this situation blindly. He chose to die on the cross to save me even when those dearest to him had left him to fend for himself. If I had been in his shoes I imagine I would have said well if even my closest friends can’t appreciate what I am about to do for the world then why bother! But thankfully I am not the Messiah.

It brings great comfort to me when I realize that there is nothing in the world that Jesus hasn’t been through. If I need an understanding ear he is the best choice. Jesus will never abandon me. Romans 8: 38-39 says, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” There is NOTHING that can separate me from the love of God. Even though I might find myself alone, Jesus will always be with me. The Bible tells me so.

I am thankful that I have a friend in You Jesus. There is nothing that I go through that You have not also been through as well. I know I can trust You and turn to You for guidance in all I do this day. Amen

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