One day I will see clearly!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 8:22-26
“Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes.” (Mark 8:25)
Curious, why did this healing need to be a two stage process?
We can only guess; my guess is that there was a reason unique to this man.
We also know that similar things happen today.
Some people are healed immediately, some receive healing over time.
Every miracle of Jesus is unique, not predictable.
God designs His help in a way that will reach the soul of every person.
There are also times when, for a purpose, God will wait, or even say no.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take my thorn away. He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
God sent Jesus to show us how far He will go to restore us, help us, heal us.
God sent Jesus to show us His plan for us – save us from the curse of sin and death!
Suffering is not over yet, but it is defeated, and one day healing will be complete.
We do not see things clearly, we do not have full healing… but He’s not done yet!
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, there are still things that are fuzzy to me. Your healing miracle in me is not complete. But what I see now is enough to make me eager to see the rest!

Missing the point?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 8:14-21
“Why are you talking about bread? Do you still not see or understand?” (Mark 8:17)
It seems obvious to me that Jesus is speaking with figurative language here.
Yet for some reason the disciples totally miss the spiritual meaning of Jesus.
I wonder, do we do this too… have we missed the point of Jesus’ words?
Think about the doctrinal debates that have divided the church.
Each one is convinced that they are understanding Jesus correctly.
We separate from each other based on OUR interpretation of Jesus.
Sadly, we do not just separate, we attack and denounce one another.
What good is our doctrine (interpretations of Jesus’ words) if we miss the point?
Paul makes it clear that gracious love is the point of the message.
Our doctrine and theology is useless without gracious love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Satan’s ‘yeast’ of distraction has led us to major on minors.
We fight over how to read the bible, yet miss its call to gracious love.
Even IF we disagree on something, gracious love is still the right response.
I hear Jesus’ warning me today to make sure I am not missing the point!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, even though I spend much of my time interpreting Your words, I wonder whether I am missing the point too. Help me to see what You see, value what You value, and do what You do!

A sincere, open heart?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 8:11-13
“He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign?” (Mark 8:12)
Jesus is not offended by wounded, weary, needy people who struggle with doubt.
He knows some people struggle with faith, and may test Him to make sure.
But He sighs deeply and will not accommodate those who want to undermine Him.
The religious leaders tested Jesus to see Him fail; they were jealous and prideful.
Jesus refuses to play games with those who do not genuinely desire the truth.
As a Jesus follower, I can feel safe coming to Jesus with my questions and doubts.
Jesus does not sigh deeply or refuse our questions if they are sincere.
He may not always give us the ‘proof’ we ask for, but He will answer us somehow.
My motivation is not to disprove Jesus — I really want to believe!
In today’s reading I am encouraged to come sincerely and honestly to Jesus.
I am also reminded that not everyone WANTS to believe when they ask about Jesus.
I’ve been questioned by those who just want to prove God and Jesus are a scam.
Don’t argue or debate; show them the truth in your gracious actions…
And pray for the Spirit to soften their hearts to become sincere and honest.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, there is nothing wrong with asking questions or having doubts, so long as they come from an open heart. Lord I believe, help me with my unbelief!

Just in case you missed it!

Is this just another version of a single feeding miracle that Mark repeats?
Or did Jesus feed large groups on several occasions.
If it was more than once, why didn’t the disciples get it the second time?
If they saw Him do it once, why would they be surprised the second time?
Good question… though we should never underestimate our inability to get things.
The bible has many stories of people who doubt after seeing multiple miracles.
We’ve become so accustomed to God’s daily care, we don’t even see it anymore.
And if something dramatic or different happens, we find ways to explain it away.
To some extent the skeptics mind is alive and well in all of us.
The Lord is always repeating Himself throughout our lives, yet we still often forget.
How often has the Lord stepped in to help me, to provide for me, to teach me?
As Jesus followers we want to live with our eyes open, to see His hand in our life.
With our eyes open, we start to see patterns, we see Him repeating Himself.
Eventually we begin to see that He is with us, working in us and through us.
Pay attention to what happens today – you may see the Lord reminding you again!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, so much of what You do for me I take for granted. The food I eat, the resources and opportunities I have, the house I live in, the people in my life. You have multiplied blessings for me… but do I see it?

Honesty brings hope and healing!

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
In 2 Samuel 11 we read about David’s sin with Bathsheba.
In 2 Samuel 12 we read how God uses the prophet Nathan to rebuke him.
Psalm 51 is the result of David’s exposure and humbling; he comes clean to God.
God is not surprised by our sin, and in reality it is even worse that we recognize.
God does not delight in tormenting us for our failure or crime.
But He does want us to be honest about it.
Denial leads to defeat, honesty brings hope and healing.
Like the addict, we can’t be helped until we admit the full extent of our problem.
David feels the burden of his shame and guilt (and cannot change what happened).
He also feels desperate hope that God can help him deal with it.
As Jesus followers, we are also desperately aware of our sin and shame.
And we desperately cling to Jesus for forgiveness and restoration.
We are not better than others; we should be more honest than others.
Knowing our sin is the first step in our journey towards healing and hope!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

His kingdom will prevail!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Kings 18-20
“You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” (2 Kings 19:15)
Sometimes I get tired of watching or reading the news.
Everyday there seems to be another crisis, disaster, scandal or tragedy.
Like Hezekiah, Jesus followers seem to be fighting an uphill battle.
The odds are stacked against us, and our opponents mock and ridicule our faith.
Ours is a weak Saviour, ours is a weak message – or so it appears.
A message of love and mercy and compassion, and a Saviour that lived this way.
We boldly claim that Jesus is King of the world, and that His kingdom is over all.
Even more than Hezekiah, Jesus’ kingdom has been established against the odds.
Despite attempts to crush His movement, it remains the world’s largest.
Jesus and His followers – not the institutional church, but true Jesus-followers.
The gates of Hades cannot and will not overcome this movement.
No matter how boastful or successful its opponents seem, they will fall.
As Jesus followers, let us be emboldened to love like we never loved before.
Our strength is not our size or numbers, but our God, and our Messiah-King!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may this story of Hezekiah make me both humble and bold. Humble in my own weakness, but bold in Your love and strength. You alone are King over all the kingdoms of the earth.

We need God and cannot live without Him!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Kings 15-17
“This took place because the Israelites sinned against the Lord.” (2 Kings 17:7)
From this writing, we see how the Israelites saw God’s hands behind everything.
God sends leprosy, enemies, lions, exile (2 Kings 15:5,12,37; 17:20,26).
But notice though that it is not always the Lord punishing them.
Azariah and Jotham – who do what was right – were afflicted (leprosy, invaders).
We need to be careful when we assume bad things are God’s punishment.
Jesus explains that a man born blind was not being punished for sin.
“This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)
God uses our circumstances to remind us that He is God, that we need Him.
God directs our lives to draw us back to Him (2 Kings 17:13, Acts 17:26-27).
God is not the reason Israel is exile… but He does allow it to happen.
God is not the reason I struggle or get sick… but He does allow it to happen.
Is the message getting through: WE NEED GOD AND CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT HIM.
God is not petty or vindictive, God cares so much He won’t let us go our own way.
Jesus is God’s proof how far He will go to draw me back, to help me find LIFE in Him.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, all things happen to show me my dependence on You. Forgive me for blaming You. Help me to see that You are doing whatever it takes to draw me back to God!

Humbling but true!

What do you think?

Maybe Jesus has a reason…

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 7:31-37
“Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, spit and touched the man’s tongue.” (Mark 7:33)
I don’t know: this what I say when asked, ‘why finger in ear and spit in mouth?’
Aside from being weird and gross, it was also effective, it worked.
Maybe Jesus had a reason for the man or the audience, that we don’t know about.
Maybe Jesus has a reason for how He answers our requests, needs or problems.
Why are some answers direct, indirect or delayed, some weird or even gross?
I don’t know… but maybe Jesus has a reason, a good reason.
His goal is to truly help us, not just give us what we want or like.
Our lives and our attitudes are more complicated than we realize.
In this story, the people were probably also weirded or grossed out…
Until they saw the results, then they admitted ‘He has done everything well’.
I believe that one day we will see and say the same.
We will see the difficult, hard to understand circumstances in our lives.
The fog will clear, we will see the results and say, ‘He has done everything well!’
Until then, I don’t know… but I trust.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I don’t know… but You do. You know things about me that I can’t see, or won’t. Help me to trust You even when what You do is difficult to understand.

Like a surgeon’s knife

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 7:24-30
“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Mark 7:27)
This hardly seems a Jesus-like thing – or a God-like – thing to say.
To call someone a dog a common way of insulting someone.
So why does Jesus speak so sharply, why does He cut her like this?
Jesus knows how the Canaanites and Jews felt about each other.
It might be the same attitude found between Jews and Palestinians today.
Jesus knows how this woman thinks of Jews, and He throws that back at her.
He knows her heart, and cuts deep with surgical knife into her unhealthy attitude.
“It is from a person’s heart that malice, slander and arrogance come…” (Mark 7:21-22)
The woman knows it too, and her heart is humbled.
Jesus loves her; He heals her daughter, but also the attitude of her heart.
Jesus speaks personally to each one of us, addressing our issues and sins.
As a Jesus follower, this passage is meant to speak to me, to expose my attitudes.
Is the Spirit challenging how I think about people of other faiths, cultures, lifestyles?
Does my heart need to be humbled, to see that I am not better than others?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are pressing in on my ‘issue’, gently but firmly calling me to repent too. Help me to see that when Your words are sharp, they are a surgeon’s knife, cutting away something unhealthy.