Putting God's Word into Practice…

Good News

She WILL bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for HE WILL save His people FROM THEIR SINS! (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus means “the Lord saves!”  What a wonderful name!  It’s the name above all names, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11)

HE WILL SAVE–that’s promise!!

FROM THEIR SINS.  Jesus didn’t come to save us from our unfortunate physical circumstances, not from the consequences of our bad choices, not from our enemies, not from our sickness.  His primary purpose in coming was to save us from our sins.  That’s really our greatest need!!  If our sins aren’t forgiven, and we die with them hanging over us, we will be separated from God and all things good for eternity.  But, if we recognize our need for a Savior, the afflictions and disappointments of this life will be wiped away upon our death and replaced with an eternity of joy and peace in God’s presence.

Whatever I think I want or need today, nothing is greater than my need for a Savior.  Whatever I think will bring me joy and peace, if it’s not Jesus, it will never truly, eternally satisfy.  No material possession, no relationship, no healing will last as long as salvation.

Jesus came to save us from our sins.  Won’t you let Him do what He came to do today?  And if you have been saved from your sins already, worship Him and share your hope with your family and friends today.  That’s the best gift we have to offer.

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HUMILITY: The Cost and Reward (1 Peter 2:21-25, Philippians 2:3-8, Isaiah 53)

Working through my 1 Peter Bible study this morning on treating others with humility, I was reminded afresh of the amazing, seemingly impossible, example of Jesus Christ in this area.

If we truly want to be humble, like Jesus, it is not impossible.  Philippians 2 says that we should have a humble mind, which is our IN CHRIST.  When we surrender our lives to Him, He exchanges our normal way of thinking for His way of thinking.  And Jesus was ALWAYS putting the needs of other’s first–humility!  He served others to the extreme of dying for them–even enemies.

The end of 1 Peter 2 reminded me of the prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 53.  I encourage you to read it today, and be amazed by the humility of our Savior.  Jesus was despised, rejected, grieved, undesirable, not esteemed, afflicted, crushed, sorrowful, stricken, smitten, oppressed, wounded, anguished, poured out, and judged.  JESUS allowed Himself to be all those things on account of our sins, transgressions, and iniquities.  His humility under the crushing weight of the sins of mankind and the grief that He carried because of our sins qualified Him to have the power to rescue us from them–to make us righteous, to give us peace, and to heal us spiritually.

I don’t generally want the descriptive words of Isaiah 53 to be applied my life.  I want ease, comfort, to be esteemed, loved, poured into, and accepted by others.  But when life is about my comfort and stroking my pride, my hands are tied in the area of serving others and allowing God to use me to point them to His ability to give peace and healing to their lives.  I must have Christ-like humility to be used by God.

Lord, change me.

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James 5:14-20 Prayer Unleashes God’s Power

Prayer unleashes God’s power to heal, restore, forgive sins, experience the impossible and to help us rescue others.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them PRAY over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the PRAYER of faith will RESTORE the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be FORGIVEN.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and PRAYER FOR ONE ANOTHER, that you may be HEALED.  The PRAYER of a righteous person has GREAT POWER as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he PRAYED FERVENTLY that it might not rain, and for three ears and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he PRAYED again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.  My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The sicknesses mentioned in these verses are specifically linked to sin.  NOT ALL SICKNESS IS A RESULT OF SIN!  Sometimes physical ailments and weakness are a result of sin in our lives.  Some common sins that lead to physical sickness are: addiction, anxiety, anger, fear, bitterness, unforgiving/unmerciful, disobedience, jealousy, critical spirit, sexual immorality, etc…  THERE IS HOPE!  Prayer unlocks the power of God to forgive our sins and heal our hearts and then to restore our bodies from the physical consequences.

You may think, “There’s no hope for me, I’ve tried.”  But through humble confession, help from others, and fervent, energized prayer God can and will do the impossible in our lives.  Can you imagine praying for no rain for 3.5 years, and it not raining? And then praying for rain, and the dark clouds begin to roll in and release great rain.  God has the power and ability to change and heal people!

Or you may think, “There’s no hope for so-and-so.”  But through prayer, God’s power is loosed in us to grant us the ability to restore others.  God can do anything He wants, but how awesome that He has given to us the privilege of prayer to be part of His processes and plans in the rescuing and restoration of others!

If you do nothing else today, pray!

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Hebrews 12:12-13 Enduring and Planning for the Race

Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

  1. When things are difficult and wearisome, we need to respond with worship and surrender!  Lift up your hands!
  2. Work!  The place where there is the greatest potential for injury in the race of life needs to be strengthened!
  3. Plan ahead! The places that might cause stumbling on our race path need extra attention.  Make them level before you have a chance to trip or stumble.

We need to be active and assertive, yet surrendered, in difficult times–times of hardship, suffering and discipline–or the result will be further pain and injury, lengthening the process of recovery.

In April I partially tore my calve muscle while training for a half-marathon.  After six weeks of physical therapy and following the plan for healing, I decided to start jogging again.  I went a little two fast and a little too far on the second day out causing a two week setback.  When I tried again, I took it much slower and stuck to the advice of the physical therapist.  My leg is restored and my running is back on track!  But it required surrender, work, and planning.

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John 9…Was Blind But Now I See

9:1-3 As He passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.  And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed IN him.”

The disciples addressed Jesus as “Rabbi” or teacher.  They wanted to learn something from him about sin and adverse circumstances.  Later we see that the blind man addressed Him as “Lord.” Jesus has an identity that is sufficient for any situation we face.

Jesus did not say that the man and his parents didn’t sin.  We all sin!  However, not all unfortunate conditions are discipline for sin, but all can be used to display God’s power.

Later in the passage we find out all this is happening on a Sabbath day–another Sabbath Day where Jesus is breaking the rules.  He is walking with His disciples, He is working and He’s asking others to work.  He worked by making mud out of saliva and made the blind man work by sending him to the pool to wash.  Jesus could have just spoken the healing and it would have happened instantaneously.  I think He chose to do it differently to make the point clear again that He is God, He has authority over creation, over circumstances, over sin and over the Sabbath.

9:8-9.  The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.”  He kept saying, “I am the man.”  Jesus restored the man’s sight; He didn’t change his appearance.  So why all the confusion?  When we encounter the transforming power of God, it makes a noticeable change in us that is evident to those around us.  It should cause them to question us and and want to know who and how the change came about.  That happens at conversion, and anytime that Jesus restores our joy or changes our sight!

9:34. They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?”  And they cast him out.  We are all born in “utter sin.”  Recognizing that truth and letting God change us gives us a message of hope and grace and power to share with others.  Those who don’t recognize their sinfulness don’t need God and have no real message to teach.

9:35-38.  Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have SEEN him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.  Jesus gave the man his physical sight, then He gave him spiritual sight.

Jesus loves to take someone who has a sinful reputation and transform them into a bold worshiper.  I know because He did it for me.  Only Jesus has the power to overcome sin–our sin and the sinful families we are born into.

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John 5:1-18 Victim Mentality

Jesus came upon a group of invalids laying around a pool called Bethesda–one was a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  The people were there because it was heard that when the pool water was supernaturally stirred up, the first one in would be healed.  Jesus asked the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years if he wanted to be healed.  Instead of giving a yes or no answer, the man played the victim.  “I…me…I…me.”  Victims let their shortcomings, flaws and inabilities define them.  Victims blame others.  

Jesus healed him anyway, telling him to get up, take up his bed, and walk.  Pastor Brad Isch said, “Jesus can do in a moment, in a second, what all the false hope and all the things we put before Him could never do and will never do.”  I know that to be true personally.  Recently, I realized I had trapped myself in a pit of whining and self-pity. I was looking to others to give me attention and to help me out of the pit.  Then I became even more bitter that no one seemed to notice I was even in the pit!  On Monday morning (5-14-12) God showed me afresh that He alone was the answer–that He had the power to get me out of the pit in just a moment.  I don’t want to go back to where I was, and I praise Him that in His mercy He made me well when I was being a whiny, selfish victim.

Back to the passage…

Instead of being grateful and worshipping Jesus like most other miracle-receivers, he continued to act like a victim:

  1. Blaming his bed carrying on Jesus (vs. 11)
  2. Tattling on Jesus (vs. 15)
  3. Stirring up drama (vs. 16)

Jesus asked this man point blank if he wanted to be healed.  Jesus loves to heal.  He longs to heal you.  If He were to ask you that question, would you really want healed?  Or would you rather wallow in self-pity continuing to live a joyless, bitter, blaming life?

In verse 14, Jesus had to remind the man that he was well!  When Jesus does change your life; don’t go back to being a victim; don’t let your past define your present.  You are well–live like it!

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John 4:46-54 His Ways Are Higher

Jesus was in Cana (where He turned water into wine) and a man from Capernaum (20-25 miles away) heard of His location.  That man had a great need–a dying son–and he went to Jesus. That’s a great lesson in itself.  How often do we go for help to anything or anyone except Jesus?  

Two times the official petitioned Jesus to, “Come” and heal his ill son.  But Jesus said, “Go.”  God’s plans are not our plans.  Sometimes they don’t make sense to us and even can seem insensitive.  Jesus followed the command to go with, “Your son will live.”  The man believed Jesus’ words and departed for home.  Belief must be demonstrated in obedience. As he was “going” someone met him and said his son was “recovering.”  This is interesting because so often Christ’s healings are defined as “immediate” throughout the Gospels.  This healing was a process!  

Jesus, by staying put, demonstrated that His power transcends distance and time.  What a blessing to know when we petition God on behalf of someone far away, they are not outside of the reach of His power.  We must believe that He is accomplishing His purposes and promises in them too!

And the best part of all is that, not only the official believed, but God used the illness and recovery of the child to bring the whole family to belief and faith in Jesus!

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Luke 13 ~Common Thread~

Verses 1-5.  The people brought two events up to Jesus that seemed unjust to them: the murder of Galileans by Pilate while they were offering sacrifices and the tower in Siloam that fell and killed 18 people.  Jesus assured them those who suffered and died were not worse sinners than those who lived.  He used their suffering and death to confront those still alive with truth.  The truth is God is showing them mercy by giving them another day–another opportunity to turn to Him in repentance.  If you are alive today–God is giving you mercy and another occasion to turn to Him.

Verses 6-9.  Jesus told a parable about a fig tree planted in a vineyard that wasn’t found to be producing fruit.  For three years there was no fruit found.  Instead of cutting it down, he offered to dig up the soil around it and add in manure in hopes that it will bear fruit.  Jesus may have been talking about the religious leaders in the synagogue that he had been visiting for the three years of His ministry, and it also applies to us.  When our lives are unfruitful, our only hope to have the soil of our hearts changed.  Do you see how Jesus changes soil–He adds manure!  Stinky waste enhances soil.  Do you see the “manure” in your life as a tool that enhances your heart and allows your life to be more fruitful?

Verses 10-17.  There was a woman who came to the synagogues on the Sabbath.  She had been physically disabled by Satan for 18 years.  Jesus saw her, called her, and touched her!  She was immediately healed.  As a result, she glorified God and the people rejoiced in Jesus, but the “unfruitful” synagogue ruler was indignant that Jesus demonstrated His power on the Sabbath day, breaking man-made rules.

Verses 18-21.  No matter what, God will build His kingdom–His kingdom will spread.  It will be a place of shelter, provision, and rest.  No man on earth can thwart it’s advancement, even the powers of hell cannot.

Verse 22-30.  Jesus was “teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem”–He was always moving toward His life’s purpose.  When He was asked about salvation, Jesus responded with, “Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”  There are many people looking for an easy route to heaven.  They don’t want to do the work of finding real truth, instead they settle for their own “truth.”  Only those who hear, repent and believe in Jesus (the only door according to John 10:1-9) will be saved.  There is no other way!

Verses 31-35.  As Jesus approached Jerusalem, His death was imminent.  Even with His suffering coming at their hands, His heart was broken by their lack of belief that He was good and had good intentions toward them.  He also realized that the pain He was going to suffer would eventually end in their recognition of His Lordship.  “And I tell you, you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The common thread throughout this chapter and really throughout the whole Bible is that God is always working and in His mercy, He is giving us ample opportunities to turn our hearts to Him in belief that Jesus is Lord.  Will we be set free and respond to Him in glory and rejoicing?  Or will we indignantly choose our own path that ends in eternal separation from Him?

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Luke 5:17-39 ~ A Good Friend

Although I finished the chapter this morning, my heart is pierced by verses 17-26.  These verses tell about the time when the men carried their friend on the mat, removed ceiling tiles, and lowered the mat down to Jesus. It says in verse 20, “And when He saw their faith, he said, ‘Man your sins are forgiven you’.”  After a brief dispute with the religious leaders, Jesus went on to heal the man’s physical disabilities as well.

As a friend, the best thing we can do is get people to Jesus!  We demonstrate a lack of faith when we try to be our friend’s “savior” by trying to fix their problems in our own wisdom, understanding and strength. Only Jesus can forgive sins and truly heal our simple or desperate situations.  We need to take our friends to Jesus–work hard, carry them when we have to, clear away any obstacles to get them to Him.  If they are unwilling to get “on the mat,” take them to Jesus in prayer.  Never give up.  Jesus sees and rewards faith (Hebrews 11:6).

The healing is not the only outcome we see in these verses.  Verse 26 says, “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe…”  When we go in faith to Jesus and He takes action, everyone watching is amazed by Him and God gets glory!  I want to be part of that!!

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Luke 4:31-44 ~ Personal Touch

I want to focus on the character of Jesus Christ.  All the love languages belong to Him, but here we see quality time and personal touch elevated.  

Verses 40-42.  Now when the sun was setting all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.  And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place.  And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them…

Jesus is all-powerful.  He could have said one prayer of healing over the masses, but instead, He took each person individually and put His hands on them and healed them.  And he did this all night!  When morning came, he tried to get a little break, but the people were so hungry for His personal touch and power that they wouldn’t leave Him alone. 

Lord, let me serve like that–selfless and personal.

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