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The Mystery “Streaker” in the Garden

Clothing Can Send A Message

When my family was young, dressing for church on Resurrection Sunday (Easter) was a day for spring dresses, suits and ties.  I remember trying to scrape some money together in the early 70’s, just so daddy’s little girls could venture out to the shopping malls and pick out that special dress.

We may not dress for Easter in the way we used to…but, we do send out signals with our clothing.  We do communicate what we feel about ourselves and, we send signals regarding our self-image.

Uniforms Can Identify Authority–

We wear clothes to tell others who we are and what we are about.

My dad was a San Diego Fire Department Captain.  When he wore his firefighter slicks, get out of his way so he could do what he must.

If I were to stand in the middle of a busy street today, holding my hand up to stop traffic, chances are…I would be hit and killed by an auto.  But put on a police uniform and do the same hand motion…traffic would come to a halt because they would recognize the authority of the uniform.

Some people communicate with their clothes of not just who they are but who they hope to become.

“Dress for Success” Idea

There are groups available to serve jobless people, offering not just counseling, but also business suits and tailored dresses.  My folks always told me, “If you are going out on an interview…look the part.”

So, what does our clothing have to do with this week’s Scripture message?

AN INTRIGUING LITTLE FOOTNOTE IN MARK’S GOSPEL –

This footnote comes during that stormy scene in the 14th Chapter, when in dark Gethsemane:  JESUS prayed alone because His closest friends for the past three years would not stay alert–the betrayer’s kiss, the arrest, a brief scuffle, and–what distressing words!

“Then [His disciples], forsaking Him,

fled, all [of them]”  (Mark 14:50 AMP).

BUT NOW COMES THE INTRIGUING FOOTNOTE – Mark 14:51-52 English Standard Version (ESV):

MARK 14:50-51

MARK 14:50-51 [Bible Iliad The Naked Young Man @ Alpha]

51  And a young man followed him (Jesus), with nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  And they seized him,  52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

After the descriptive narrative, the story continues:  trials and denials, prisoner releases and floggings, mocking and parading, and, in the end, CRUCIFIXION.  DEATH.  Dramatic death,  DARKNESS and death.

[More reporting, more investigation is needed.]

THE MYSTERY IS REVEALED –

Here’s the MYSTERY that grabbed my attention.  Why did Mark waste his ink on this certain young man, wearing nothing but linen?  Why tell us about a person who was almost snatched by some soldiers but who pulled out and ran away…NAKED?

But was this really a waste of ink?  Scripture points out:  “Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience…”  (2 Timothy 3:16).

That said, then who was this young man…what does this mean?  Does his dropped linen cloth send a MESSAGE?

Just as clothing can send messages, and what we wear may send signals, so also what we leave behind marks out a new identity.  What we drop off permits us to become something new.

Who then, was the “STREAKER” skittering through the grove of olive trees?

In study, I found several possibilities, each represents a different way of understanding the “dropped cloth.”  Each of these dropped cloths may fit some of us.

The Possibilities–

Some think that the young man may not be anyone we can name; that he may have come from an affluent family.  LINEN was expensive, and so if he was wearing linen out there in the garden at night, when you might have expected informal clothing, it might suggest he had wealth and wanted to show off.

If this theory is correct, this young man came close to JESUS, almost got caught up with Him, but he ran because he couldn’t risk losing his financial status in the community.  So he dropped his cloth, his fine linen cloth, and ran away…NAKED!

Wow!  I thought there may be a METAPHOR for some of us here.

We’ve watched JESUS from a distance.  We have listened to Him, but with skepticism, because He teaches things that are hard to swallow.

We’ve trusted in our success in business and in our profession, but JESUS speaks about losing our lives in order to find them.

JESUS tells us that if we want ETERNAL LIFE, sell all that we have and give it to the poor.

Getting Close to JESUS!

We can’t get too close to this JESUS, not as prosperous as we are  He demands too much!

If this is correct, that this young man is a man of means, clad in fine linen…Symbolically then, as he came close to JESUS that night, he had to drop that cloth.

I HEAR A HARD LESSON–that the meaning of LIFE doesn’t consist in the abundance of the things which we possess; that our dollars and our acquired acclamations do not earn us anything really.  In the sight of God, as the Bible teaches it,  “All our righteousness is as filthy rags”  (Isaiah 64:6).

All the STUFF we have will deteriorate and all the achievements we have piled up…will fade.

It’s a hard thing to hear for the “whoever’s”…

The “whoever’s” In our prosperous achievement-oriented society,

“Whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, and the gospel’s will gain it”  (Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Matthew 16:25).

That means we have to DROP the cloth of prosperity and no more pretension.

Behind our pretty clothes, our varnished veneers, and our well-manicured lawns, lies nothing but the NAKED TRUTH–we are desperately needy.  Only Christ Jesus can satisfy our need.  We must drop the cloth of PRETENSION.

But What If…

What if the anonymous STREAKER found in the garden of Gethsemane was NOT a young man of wealth?  Maybe it was someone we can actually name, identify that young man losing his cover in the garden.

All for good reasons, some Bible students think this certain young man was LAZARUS. The man who JESUS raised from death a little while before.  Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, were good friends with Jesus.

JESUS arrived at their home in Bethany after Lazarus had been dead for four days, shrouded and buried.

But JESUS stood at his grave and commanded, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And indeed he did.

The Bible story reports that they had to release the grave-clothes in letting him go.

What if…the young man mentioned in these verses… is LAZARUS?  And more than that, 9306807480_694ec4546esuppose that this LINEN CLOTH is his buried garment.

True, it no longer has the same purpose of binding his arms and legs, but is free to move about.

But is he still wearing that shroud?  Is he still running about town in the same cloth used to wrap his dead body?  How weird would that be?

But even if that sounds bizarre, it’s not unusual.  Though peculiar, but not uncommon.

The Truth is…many of us continue to wear our grave-clothes.

Many of us exhibit the relics of a DEATH from which we’ve been freed at SALVATION.

Many of us act as though we were trapped in THE PAST instead of THE FUTURE.

Like LAZARUS, we have been offered new life by JESUS; but, again, like Lazarus, we do not shake off the things that bind us that hold us back.

PAST BAD HABITS CONTINUED…

Some of us our BOUND in old habits that make us appear as “dead men walking,” even though we have been shown the right path to take.

We hold on to old prejudices (“I’m guilty”).  And yet, who of us does not know that in JESUS CHRIST there is a way, a TRUTH, and a life–a life that brings freedom?

Why would we choose death over life?  But we do.  We do.

Dropping the “Shrouds of Death” –

LAZARUS, raised from death, not yet thought life unleashed his freedom.  And so here he is, on the night of trial, lingering on the edge of the garden, yet not ready to go and die with JESUS.

Why should LAZARUS even fear death?

He has already been given life, and should understand that the One who gave him life once…could do it again!

BUT LAZARUS is living in a SHROUD and had to drop that cloth exposing his frail limbs.

SAD FOR LAZARUS!  AND SAD FOR US…

…If God, who has begun a work of SALVATION in us will not bring it to completion.

SAD FOR US if once we said “YES” to Jesus and His offer of a NEW LIFE, but done nothing with it for years and years.  It means we are still wearing GRAVE CLOTHES!!

We must drop the “shroud” that BINDS us to the past.

There is a THIRD THEORY in this story…

During my investigation, I uncovered a THIRD possibility of who the anonymous young streaker might be.

It might have been a nameless rich and accomplished young man, who could afford a LINEN CLOTH, or, it might have been LAZARUS, still wearing his burial shroud, or it might have been MARK himself, the author of this gospel.

It may have been a very young MARK writing this account, not wanting to name himself as the “streaker,” but telling us that he was there all the time.  He was a WITNESS–but in his nightshirt.  Night clothes, pajamas, sometimes were made of LINEN.

Uncovering the Evidence in the Garden – 

There are many reasons why it could be MARK, too many to list in this blog.  But it definitely could be John Mark.  It is consistent with what we know of Mark in other places of the Bible.

Here in this seemingly insignificant little story of a young man who came out to the garden one night, awakened from his sleep, got close to the action, but who hesitated at the key moment.

Here is a young man who had followed JESUS, maybe even closely, but who went back home to sleep when things got tough.  He pulled back to SAFETY–an insulated life, and came out to watch, but at a distance.

And if it’s true that MARK is the mystery “streaker” in the garden, just as he did later on, according to the Book of Acts…he RAN.  He bolted.

When the going got tough, he got going, but not because he was tough, far from it.

He got going because he was afraid.

He got moving because he was immature and not ready for what was coming next.

He got to his feet and ran because he had not yet awakened to all that JESUS had in store for him.

He ran and exposed his maturity.  As we often do.  As we run.

We too go to sleep by cutting short what we could very well experience.

We too start to be a follower of Christ, but find Him too complex, too much.  So we slip into unconsciousness–we go to sleep, we run from Him.

Hazy and Lazy About the Christian Faith…

Some of us don’t get it what it means to be a Christian.  Our PRAYER lives have not advanced beyond,  “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

Our GIVING lives have not passed beyond tossing a coin or two to a beggar on the street corner, or sending a minimal check to a charity or church.

WE ARE ASLEEP!  We could be so much more as Christians, but we just haven’t grown up.

So like MARK, we go about in our sleepy-time night-clothes, not aware that we are called to be children of the Light.

We need to LET GO of the life of near-nothingness and to commit to grow in JESUS. Otherwise, we will find it mighty cold out there, exposed in the night with nothing to protect us.

THERE IS STILL ANOTHER LINEN CLOTH THAT WAS DROPPED –

Dropped Cloths…

The rich man, or Lazarus, or Mark.  Take your pick.  Each one of them exposes us; dropped cloths that will strip away all the ways we hide ourselves.

For you see, in an EMPTY TOMB, there was another LINEN CLOTH (Mark 16:6-7):

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for JESUS of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here.  Look, there is the place where they laid Him…Go, tell his disciples…”

HE LIVES!

HE LIVES!

And they did GO TELL!

They told those who had depended on wealth and status, they could drop that pretension, for Christ is alive and gives freely, without price or payment to ALL who will TRUST Him.

He dropped His cloth and He lives!

They told those who were living in the past, that they could drop that habit, for JESUS is alive and gives NEW LIFE freely.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old thing are passed away and all things become new”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He dropped His cloth and He lives!

And they told us who are so immature, so far short of what we could be, we can drop our masks, we can forget our veils.

JESUS DROPPED HIS CLOTH;  He sends a message.  He lives!

And because He lives, we too can live, and live more abundantly–

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whosoever believes on Him has everlasting life. And whosoever includes even such a child as I.”

He dropped His cloth…

He sends a message…

He lives!

Drop that cloth.  Right now, drop that cloth of yours, and truly live!


 Credits and Commentaries:

Commentary:  The powerful transformation of the young man – Mark 14:51-52 & 16:5 by AOSIS Publishing.

PHOTO’S not marked:  Google Images, Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  English Standard Version (ESV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); New King James Version (NKJV).

 

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“For Cryin Out Loud!’

Bible Text:  Mark 10:46-52 (E.S.V.)

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46  And they came to Jericho, And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47  /and when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say,  “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  48  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he cried out ALL THE MORE,  “Son of David, have mercy on me.”  49  And Jesus stopped and said,  “Call him.”  And they called the blind man, saying to him,  “Take heart.  Get up, He is calling you.”  50  And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus,  51 And Jesus said to him,  “What do you want of me to do for you?”  And the blind man said to Him,  “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”  52  And Jesus said to him,  “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him on the way.

A BLIND MAN’S CRY –

JESUS and His disciples are on the way to Jerusalem, passing through Jericho, where we are introduced to a BLIND BEGGAR.  His name, for me at least, is one of the strange moments in the Gospel of Mark.

BARTIMAEUS, which is sometimes seen as his given name, is actually the man’s “last name.”  BARTIMAEUS is an Aramaic phrase: bar timaeus, where “bar” means “son.”  [*[i] footnote].

If you are perceptive here, and notice that if you take away the “bar,” you’ve got “Timaeus.” So for those of you who don’t speak Aramaic (including myself), what Mark is telling us is that BARTIMAEUS is Aramaic for “Son of Timaeus.”  

Also worth noting, “timaios”, the Greek word, means “honorable.”

Sitting on the roadside, passing time away…

While on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, JESUS and His followers were enjoying perhaps, a Carnival-like atmosphere:  Vendors had booths set up along the roadway trying to attract business from people passing by.  Shouting to the people as they passed by.

Reminded me of our little County Fair held in August of every year where vendor’s booths are selling everything from Wood Burning/Pellet stoves, to Poffertjes, a Dutch dessert desired by all the community residents.  People come for miles for this Dutch Treat.

BARTIMAEUS was sitting beside the roadway, begging.  He was BLIND; He didn’t have anything to sell, he was just CALLING OUT FOR MERCY from those who walked by.

In that society, there was no welfare or social security; if you couldn’t work or didn’t have someone to take care of you, then you begged for money or food to eat.  It was a very sad situation for this blind man, and little sympathy to boot!

When BARTIMAEUS heard of JESUS walking in front of him, he began to CRY OUT LOUD to Him,  “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

CRY OUT TO GOD–BE BOLD!

The Bible says that as soon as the blind man heard about JESUS, he began “cryin out loud!”

BARTIMAEUS could have just wished in his heart that JESUS would touch him.  He could have just asked someone to go and talk to JESUS about his disability, but Bartimaeus knew his healing depended on a close encounter of himself and JESUS.

Blind people don’t like to be helped unless it’s their last resource.  So, he took matters into his own hands and just started to CRY FOR MERCY louder, and louder.

Are you in need of a MIRACLE where you are sitting?

How hard do you need it?

How desperate are you?

Maybe, just maybe, it is time for you to do Something Bold and drastic.

“This blind man threw off his coat, jumped up, and went to Jesus.”

Doing Something Different…

Sometimes, we just need to do something out of the ordinary; doing the same old thing over and over…

Television host, Dr. Phil, often asking his guests who seem to be in a quandary over failing to obtain desired results from the dilemma;  “So how’s that working for you?” he would ask.

A blank stare was the answer. The TV psychologist would then explain, they needed to do some different things to achieve the results.

BARTIMAEUS’ COAT –

Bartimaeus’ coat in this story represented his old way of life.  It was his “beggar uniform.”

He was dressed for begging.

Hebrews 12:1 says;  “…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily clings to and entangles us…”

It says to lay aside every burden and every sin; WHATEVER it is that is keeping JESUS first in your life.  WHATEVER is holding you back from surrendering your life to JESUS.

BARTIMAEUS took off his coat to run to Jesus.  He did something bold, dramatic, and different.

How many times have you heard people say,

“When I get older”; “When I get more time”; “When I get the chance”; “After I get past this test, or this meeting, or this problem, or this trouble.”

TODAY is your day to RUN to JESUS…lay aside your prejudice against the Lord!

JESUS is passing by this very place and there is no greater opportunity to accept Him as your LORD AND SAVIOR!

Our Current Values…

Our current values may be blinding you, and holding you back.

Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus=”highly prized” (of great value).   He was a blind man who Jesus healed that day.  It was significant that he was the son of a highly prized man.

Our HERITAGE in life often determines the VALUES we receive from our parents and our traditions which may blind us to the TRUTH of the Gospel message.

How many times over the years have I heard people saying  “I was raised Catholic” or “I’m a Jew by birth.”  People link who they are with family beliefs and some are strong in those beliefs, while others chose to reject their parent’s beliefs.

You know one day you’ll be confronted with the Gospel Truth and you may resist what has been presented and written in the Bible all because it may go against your beliefs or the beliefs of your family.

God does everything for a reason…

I know BARTIMAEUS wasn’t blind because of his father, but I want to mention the fact that he was the descendant of an important man.  His family was known by the religious community and his father’s name deserved to be mentioned in the Bible.  Not only the Bible documents who this man was so the fact that he was healed could be confirmed.

But the fact that he was the son of a highly prized man didn’t allow him to have VISION, he was blind!

There are two kinds of BLINDNESS:  Physical Blindness and Spiritual Blindness.

Bartimaeus was physically blind but he had enough spiritual vision to break with his past and embrace the POWER of Jesus Christ.

JESUS IS ASKING,  “What do you want me to do for you?”

JESUS is still asking the same question today to all those who call on His name.

Joel 2:32:  “And whoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered and saved.”

What does it mean to “call on” someone?  Let me give you one example:

When a doctor goes to the hospital to “call on” some of his patients, he doesn’t merely walk into the room and say,  “I just wanted to come by and say, ‘Hello’.  I wish you the best.  Now pay me!”  

On the contrary, he involves himself in a SERVICE:  He examines the patient, listens to the patient’s concerns, gives further instructions regarding the patient’s hopeful recovery.

Then often times prescribes medication.  ALL of these elements may be involved in a doctor “calling upon” a patient.

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When we call upon the LORD, it shouldn’t be just a matter of doing a request.  God is not just interested in answering our requests.

JESUS is here to ask you  “What do you want Me to do for you?”  but there’s a CATCH!

ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST–ACTS 2:

PETER preached about this important subject.  He quoted from the prophecy of Joel and told those in Jerusalem on Pentecost “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be SAVED”  (Acts 2:21).  He told them how to go about “calling on the name of JESUS.”

The people gathered in the crowd in Acts 2, didn’t understand Peter’s reference to the prophet Joel, so in Acts 2:37, we see bewilderment on the faces of the first Church ask “Brethren, what shall we do?”

And we see that Peter responded to their question and told them what they must do to be SAVED; he didn’t say, “I’ve already told you once what to do!”

You can be SAVED by PetitIoning God for SALVATION through PRAYER–

JUST “CALL ON HIS NAME”

Peter needed to give a clear explanation to them what it meant by “calling on the name of the LORD.”

Instead of repeating this statement–one more time–Peter commanded them saying,

“Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 2:38).

So there are RULES…

I don’t know about you, but I hate rules: wear a bicycle helmet, buckle your seat belt, don’t use your cell phone while driving, Speed Limit signs…

But sometimes, the RULES we face are put in place for our benefit–to give us protection from the hazards ahead.

The RULE that Peter gives to us is to call upon the LORD for a petition of healing or to ask JESUS a miracle.  You need to REPENT from your sins including any unconfessed sin; sin that you were unaware of at the time.

There you can expect the LORD to ask this amazing question, “what do you want Me to do for you?”

GOD is calling…will you answer?

JESUS is waiting for your decision.  He is expecting you to get rid of the “beggar’s” cloak and call on His name.

Are you going to get attached to the past and reject Him, or, can you make a bold move and just begin cryin out loud for the Lord?

GOD is waiting on you!

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way  (Mark 10:52 ESV).

 


 

CREDITS: Mark 10:46-52 – Commentary by Karl Jacobson; The Blind Bartimaeus from The Journal of Biblical Accuracy.

PHOTOS:  Google Search Images; Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.  

 

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“Don’t Panic!”

MILLIONS of people suffer from anxiety and panic disorder in the United States.  It’s our most common mental disorder and there are even several categories.  Furthermore, it is depressing to have anxiety.  Frequently someone who experiences it has to deal with some form of depression as well.

The Dictionary term for PANIC:  “a sudden, unreasonable, overpowering fear.”

2535543334_a554acbbb8Since PANIC then, can be described as “unreasonable fear”–or, fear run a muck–it is groundless; meaning there is no factual evidence to support it.

And yet, when we are afraid of missing an airplane flight–we (“I”) might panic until seated in the assigned seat (that is a personal confession).

Getting BAD NEWS of a personal illness, a family member who has cancer, the FEAR of death–PANIC can set in our spirit.

Are you feeling DEPRESSED over what has been said?

Let’s get to our Scripture Study in The Gospel of Mark.

Mark 5:21-36 – TWO STORIES

A religious leader named JAIRUS has a daughter who is lying on her death-bed.  I know if one of my daughters, and I have two, were on her death-bed, I would certainly have plenty of anxiety.

Things Are Desperate…

Jairus goes to JESUS, begging Him in earnest, telling Him of his desperate situation:

“My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be healed and live”  (5:23).

Notice that as soon a Jairus spoke (words are “things”)his FAITH…JESUS was immediately attracted by that faith and went to heal the little girl.

On their journey, there was a multitude, a crowd gathered on the beachfront to check out what was going on.  They had heard the stories from across the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Gerasenes; the miracle JESUS had performed, commanding the spirits to “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit (demons)” (Mark 5:1-8).

The Scene Is Set…

So here we have the local religious leader, Jesus and His disciples, making their way through a crowd on their way to a dying little girl’s bed.

A Woman’s Touch of FAITH…

And in the pushing and shoving through the gathered masses, a WOMAN came up behind JESUS, secretly touching the hem of His garment.

How often do we REACH OUT and touch Jesus in FAITH?

Reaching for JESUS

Reaching for JESUSJESUS, secretly touching the hem of His garments.

Jesus turns and asks (verse 30),  “Who touched My clothes?”

His disciples, who are following their Teacher through the crowds, with all the distractions, say to Him…“You see the crowd pressing hard around You from all sides, and You ask, Who touched Me?” (v. 31)

But JESUS said, “This touch is different, because I felt virtue–POWER–go out of Me.”

Someone paraphrased it by saying,  “Someone has made a demand upon My ability.”

“JESUS sees the invisible grace in its hidden operations; man only sees its effects, and not always these”  [See footnote [i] ].

Putting Yourself In Jairus’ Shoes…

He has desperately made his way through the crowds to JESUS begging Him to come and heal his daughter who’s at death’s door.  Obviously, he wants JESUS to hurry up and come as quickly as possible because there’s not a moment to lose.  She could die at any given moment.

Then on the way, some woman sneaks up behind JESUS and by an ACT OF FAITH, makes a demand upon His ability.

As JESUS stops to minister to her, Jairus is left standing to watch the unfolding scene, possibly thinking to himself…

“This isn’t fair.  This woman has been sick for twelve years, but MY daughter is dying right now!  I came to JESUS first.  He should come with me and heal  my daughter, and then He can attend to this woman.  Besides, since she is UNCLEAN, she doesn’t have the right to even be here!”

At the time of this story, the Levitical law stated that because this woman had “an issue of blood,” ceremonially, she was unclean.  By law, she could have been stoned for being in public.

Here, in a time of personal need, JESUS was taking up precious time with a social outcast, when it seemed He should have been dealing with the pastor’s daughter (the ruler of the synagogue).

The Evidence Presented…

“JESUS is no respecter of persons”  (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11).

He will minister to the highest-ranking official, or… He will minister to the lowest outcasts of society.

JESUS had started going along with Jairus in response to his FAITH, and on the way He stopped and ministered to this poor woman in response to her FAITH.

To me, this fact demonstrates the LORD is not looking for those who have wealth, position or power in my community of needs, but all He is looking for is someone with FAITH!

Some Things to Remember of the Faith of Jairus:

HE DIDN’T PANIC!

As JESUS talks with the woman, messengers come from Jairus’ house to tell him his daughter has died, no reason to “trouble” the Master any further.

JESUS hears the message given to Jairus about the little girl’s death and immediately, He turns to Jairus and says to him…

“Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing” (verse 36).

Keep on, keeping on,  BELIEVING!

In other words what JESUS was saying here is:  “DON’T PANIC!”

He was telling this man, to act just as he did before he received the bad news.  As far as JESUS is concerned, DEATH was no greater a challenge than SICKNESS.

He knew that if He had the POWER to restore health, He had the POWER to restore life. That is why He told Jairus not to PANIC.

When JESUS is walking with you, there is no reason to FEAR…no matter what the report may sound like…no matter what it looks like.

We are walking with the One that rose up from the grave after being dead for three days.

Please tell me then, why He cannot handle your specific problem?

If you are in a PANIC, then you are operating in “groundless fear”.  FEAR of any kind negates, wipes out, FAITH!

FAITH and FEAR are mutually exclusive…

They cannot exist at the same time…in the same person.  Either you have GREAT FAITH or you have GREAT FEAR, one or the other.

SATAN knows that he can drive your FAITH out of you to be FEAR, and in doing so, he can bring to pass in your life the very thing that you fear.

But…if you keep FAITH in your mind and heart, God will bring to pass in your life the very thing that you are BELIEVING.

This is why JESUS is telling Jairus in Mark 5, not to be afraid–only BELIEVE!  And keep on, keeping on BELIEVING, no matter what it looks like.  Does all that make sense?

Obviously Jairus’ mental and emotional attitude has a great deal to do with what was going to happen next.

The same is true with us.  When the LORD tells us not to be afraid, not to PANIC, He’s not saying that negative situations we are facing are not real.  THEY ARE REAL!  Just as Jairus’ daughter was real.

JESUS didn’t deny the reality of the situation, but He did indicate by His words and actions that it was not the ultimate final reality.

JESUS didn’t tell Jairus, “It must not have been God’s will for your daughter to be healed.

That’s not what Jesus said, not what He did.  JESUS went right to Jairus’ house just as nothing had happened.

As long as we have the kind of FAITH that doesn’t PANIC and holds on, no matter what…that’s the way JESUS has always operated and always will.

If you hold on to your FAITH, your answer will come, no matter what the situations are telling you; no matter what it looks like.

JAIRUS didn’t Panic when things didn’t go as planned.

ALSO…

DON’T LET GO OF YOUR FAITH!

JAIRUS doesn’t let go (Mark 5:37-42):

[37] And He (Jesus) permitted no one to accompany Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.

[38] When they arrived at the house of the ruler of the synagogue, He looked [carefully and with understanding] at [the] tumult and the people weeping and wailing loudly.

[39] And when He had gone in, He said to them,  Why do you make an uproar and weep? The little girl is not dead but is sleeping.

[40] And they laughed and jeered at Him.  But He put them all out, and, taking the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him, He went in where the little girl was lying.

[41] Gripping her [firmly] by the hand,  He said to her, Little girl, I say to you, arise [from the sleep of death]!

[42] And instantly the girl got up and started walking around–for she was twelve years old.  And they were utterly astonished and overcome with amazement.

The End of the Story, Or is it?

We see the end of the story about Jairus’ daughter.  JESUS walked into his house, took her by the hand and said,

“Little girl, I say to you, ARISE!”  

And she did!!

Refusing to PANIC in the times of adversity and in times of life’s storms… if you REFUSE to let go of your faith, JESUS can not only resurrect your daughter, your son, or your spouse from that old sinful condition,..

–  HE CAN ALSO RESURRECT YOUR PHYSICAL BODY,

–  HE CAN RESURRECT YOUR MARRIAGE,

–  HE CAN RESURRECT YOUR FINANCES,

–  HE CAN RESURRECT ANYTHING THAT THE WORLD SAYS IS DEAD!

It may be DEAD, and that may be a reality, but it is not the final or ultimate reality.

JESUS HAS ANOTHER PLAN FOR US:

Your plans may seem to be DEAD right now, but when JESUS arrives on the scene, so does RESURRECTION POWER!

He will show up on the scene if…

You hold on to your FAITH…

If, you don’t PANIC…don’t give up…

JESUS IS ON HIS WAY!!!

It may seem like He got a little sidetracked because it is taking so long, but we have God’s assurance that JESUS ALWAYS SHOWS UP ON TIME.

When Jesus set out for the house of Jairus, why did He take with Him only Peter, James and John?

Once there, why did He put out everyone from the room but three disciples and the parents of the little girl?

It was because He wanted around Him only those who had genuine FAITH.

Genuine Prayers of FAITH (James 5:16):

“…pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored.  The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

I personally do not seek out people to pray for me and my family who at the time are going through adversity…UNLESS they are earnest, fervent, and righteous people of PRAYER.

Believers who pray fervently don’t PANIC–they keep on, keeping on, praying through the storm.

JESUS is looking for FAITH.

The question is:  Will He find it in you?

 


 

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – Bible Hub Pulpit commentary – Mark 5:30.

Enochlophobia: Fear of Crowds: enochlophobia…fear-of-crowds

Bible Translations – Amplified Bible, unless noted differently.

Photo Credit:  Google Search Images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where is God when things go wrong?

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TEXT for this Blog: Habakkuk 2:1-20

This weeks blog-post all began with a question my nephew-in-law proposed.  He was commenting on and trying to get a discussion started on Facebook.  Now there’s a challenge.

The QUESTION:  “If God is real, why would he create us to watch us destroy ourselves and the world?”

It was interesting to read some of the comments and answers to his question–which in turn, prompted me to search out answers found in God’s Word: Where IS God when things seem to be deteriorating all around us?

When you ask a question, what do you want?  

I know what I want–I want an answer!  Not only that, I am fussy.  I would like the right answer as well!!

In the Book of Habakkuk, we notice right away, there is a DIALOGUE going on between the prophet and God.  In today’s religious circles, we might call it, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER (I do, anyhow).

We can plainly see that Habakkuk is looking for ANSWERS from God.  As he watches the faithlessness of his nation’s people, he wonders why God doesn’t change it.

So, HABAKKUK complains about God’s seeming lack of concern.

But…

IN CONTEXT– When the prophet COMPLAINS of God’s INACTIVITY, God gives him an ANSWER that distresses him even more.

JUDGMENT!!!

God is going to send the wicked nation of Babylon as an instrument of judgment.  Now that is definitely NOT the answer Habakkuk was looking for.

In fact, he finds it hard to believe that God would use an even more sinful and evil people to establish His righteousness (Do you know any people, leaders who you think could be evil?).

For Habakkuk, this seems inconsistent.  It doesn’t make sense.  But he doesn’t give up on God.

Learning to Wait!

WATCHTOWER

WATCHTOWER

(verse 1):  “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the rampart; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” [N.I.V. Bible]

GROWING CONFIDENCE –

Proverbs 3:5  Amplified Bible:  

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

“WATCH” = a military term.

HABAKKUK CONSIDERS HIMSELF A MILITARY MAN THAT LOOKS FAR OFF –

The Need for a Better Perspective–

At this point, Habakkuk is reserving any more comment until he understands.  For as confusing as he thought God’s INACTIVITY was, His ACTIVITY is even more confusing.

So Habakkuk comes to the conclusion that not ALL WORKINGS of God can be understood by our own reasoning.  He would agree with Solomon when he wrote:

“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”

HABAKKUK MOVES TO THE HIGH TOWER –

What a great vantage point in getting yourself above and away from the world’s distractions.  Habakkuk is no longer doing all the talking–he’s listening!  He is no longer arguing–“Why not?”–“What for?”–he is submitting.

So…

God Responds to Habakkuk’s Waiting  (verses 2-3)…

“And the LORD answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”

God wants His ANSWER to be permanently recorded because… of future generations who are going to read it (or, should read it).

God says, ‘Mark my words!  Mark it down!’

I love God’s last statement.  Oh, how impatient we get for answers to our prayers.  God literally says, “Though it delay…it will not delay.”

Simply put; Though the timing is not ours…it is not a delay in God’s timing.  He is in control!!!  There are not random circumstances.

Our CONFIDENCE on Display –

How can we become CONFIDENT in our asking?

GOD IS MERCIFUL:

God gives us a contrast here in Scripture:  BABYLON thinks that they are powerful, but in reality, foolish.

God wants us living by FAITH–

It is not what I do that puts me in right standing with God; I will never be good enough.  But instead, I need to LIVE A LIFE of Dependence on God.

– WE MAKE IT BY FAITH.

– WE MAKE IT LIVING IN ASSURANCE of God’s Grace.

When we are not living by FAITH, God, in His MERCY will go to extraordinary means to get us there!  I don’t know about you, but that sure gives me CONFIDENCE!!

God is always working for our best.  The truth is, however, when God works for our best interest, often we go through a very painful process of acknowledging the TRUTH.

AN “ALLIGATOR STORY” –

It takes DISCIPLINE going through the process…

Several years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a 1437516296_0ccededa8aswim in an old swimming hole behind his house.

Being in a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind his shoes, socks, and shirt on the floor.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an ALLIGATOR was swimming toward the shore.

His mother–in the house was looking out the window–saw the scene unfolding before her eyes.  In utter fear, she ran toward the water yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, making a U-turn to swim to his mother.

IT WAS TOO LATE!

Just as he reached her, the ALLIGATOR reached him.

From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by his arms, just as the ALLIGATOR snatched his legs.  The incredible tug-of-war began.

The ALLIGATOR was much stronger but the mother was much to passionate to let go.

A farmer happened to drive by and heard her screams.  He raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the ALLIGATOR dead!

Remarkably, after weeks in the hospital care, the boy survived.  His legs were extremely scarred and on his arms, were deep scratches from his mother’s fingernails that .dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

A newspaper reporter interviewed the boy after the trauma and asked if he would show him his scars.  The boy lifted his pant legs.  And then, with obvious pride, said to the reporter,  “But look at my arms.  I have great scars on my arms, too.  I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go!”

We Have Scars, Too!

Some of those scars are from our own foolishness because they are unsightly, causing deep regret.

But some wounds are because of God, in His Mercy, has refused to let go!  He will go through extraordinary means to get us where we need to be, even if it’s PAINFUL.

WE CAN BE CONFIDENT BECAUSE GOD IS MORAL (verses 5-19) –

(verse 14):  “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

God desires to REVEAL Himself…

As we know Him better, we discover He is holy!

When we know God, we understand HIS STANDARD.  He is a holy God and rightly condemns SIN.

Throughout this section of Chapter 2, we find the description of SIN as practiced and lived by the nation of BABYLON.

God is telling HABAKKUK that He knows they’re bad–they are evil.  And yet, God’s own people were headed down the same PATH.

God hast to stop them, discipline them. get them back where they belong…LIVING BY FAITH!  They needed to be a people who live by faith!!  (2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:6).

So…

GOD REVEALS THE FAITHLESS PATHS THAT THE COUNTRY IS ON:

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HEADING DOWN THE WRONG PATH IN OUR LIVES:

THE PATH of GREED (5-8):

Babylon is never satisfied.  It is always gathering and collecting for itself; It makes itself rich carrying out material pursuits in a way that shuts out all other concerns.

THE PATH OF INJUSTICE (9-11):

I found it interesting in my studying, the verses that the road from righteousness changed direction to a path of wickedness.  A Nation full of people who are outraged by the SIN around them.  And yet, they’re still characterized by INJUSTICE because they tolerate the SIN that is within them.  They not only sin against others, but also sin against themselves.

This is the type of INJUSTICE that is spoken of here:

It’s the breaking of one’s own MORAL CODE.

A PATH OF SENSUALITY (15):

HEARTS that are adrift in sexual permissiveness–

There exist a carelessness in the society during Habakkuk time; of sexual activity, instead of seeing it in its proper sacred place (Sound familiar?).

Finally, the PATH is one of…

DOWN THE ROAD OF IDOLATRY (18-19):

SIN doesn’t go unpunished (verse 16)–

Babylon was serving the creature rather the Creator.

They sought their own substitute which demonstrated their own ignorance of REALITY–

– It was a god of their own making…

– It was a god in their own image…

Yes, there were deliberate failures made when it came down to God’s standards, but they too would learn.  SIN doesn’t go unpunished.

And this was the message that God has for Babylon (16):

“You will be filled with shame and contempt instead of glory…”

Their own SIN will find them out!  God is going to have the last Word!!

GOING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH gives the confidence we need:

WE CAN FIND CONFIDENCE IN GOD BECAUSE HE IS MAJESTIC (20)

Note the end of God’s  MESSAGE to HABAKKUK in verse 20:

“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.”

GOD is very present!!!

– IN HIM WE LIVE & MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING!

We may try to shut Him out, ignoring His purposes over our own.  THE FACT remains–GOD IS THE WITH-US GOD!

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE –

We continue to be creative in searching for the answers we seem so desperately need in our daily lives.

Perhaps, we are more spiritual in following certain preachers religiously.

Perhaps it is PLEASURE that we really worship or the accumulation of things, with the thinking that, “He who dies with the most toys…wins.”

If you wonder in your WORSHIP, and realize that God is in His holy temple–

CONFIDENCE BUILDERS FOUND IN WORSHIP:

The Lord our Creator, our Redeemer, and the self-existing, everlasting, un-caused cause lives…

No one makes Him…

He’s not a conceived and developed concept…

He is not controllable or manipulated…

In Majesty, He reigns.

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE, EVEN WHEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM.  

SO…

Where is God when things seem to be going wrong?  When it’s not going the way we expected…

It is time to trust; time to live by FAITH…  

For…this is how the JUST live out their lives, they LIVE BY FAITH and not by sight!

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CREDITS:

Photo Credits by,  Photo Pin & Google Search – Images; Melinda Todd (Isaiah 45:2).

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

.

 

pratz

Your BREAKTHROUGH Is Here!

BLOG TEXT: MICAH 2

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A SHEEP GATHERING

MICAH’S DECLARATION:

Micah declares to the people of the day that the JUDGE was coming, referring to God!!

And God was angry because of widespread SIN of Idolatry and…covetousness, abuses, lawlessness, among other things.

And this isn’t just referring to the nation’s leaders, but to everyone who had cultivated a heart of acceptance to do evil in the sight of God.

The CULTIVATION Effect –

In Genesis 2:15, Adam’s job in the Garden was to “tend and keep”–or “cultivate and guard” what God had provided.

To CULTIVATE is the effort a farmer makes to ensure that he will produce a bountiful crop.

If a FARMER is lazy, if he fails to cultivate the ground, to do nothing to promote growth, nature will follow its course and the farm begins to degenerate.

If we don’t “guard” our hearts; we get lazy in reading and meditating on the Word of God, spiritual weeds (lies, excuses, rebellious spirit, lawlessness) will crop up and choke out any spiritual growth (fruit) that should be developing.

And in the place of SPIRITUAL FRUIT, we begin to nourish (cultivate) our fleshly heart, and sin gets a hold of our thoughts and we wind up at the wrong destination.

In place of FRUIT, SIN will reign in its place and our heart will begin to degenerate.

Proverbs 4:23-26 begins with this:  “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life”  (v. 23).

Apathy can let down your guard…

We are often guilty of pointing a finger at our nation’s leaders, our elected politicians, while at the same time being somewhat complacent–apathetic– on what’s tolerated by society–  “Hey, I don’t support “X, Y, Z”, but I don’t want to be judgmental. There’s nothing I can do or say, so why bother.”

It might become THE LAW of the land, but as true believers, we don’t have to roll over and play dead–forget who we are in Christ JESUS.

What is about to happen isn’t going to be a pretty sight!

So God declares through the Prophet some pretty heavy things that were going to happen from their neglect, their laziness, for what they were doing to the people and for their sins!!

What ever they had taken, God was going to take from them!!!  This also refers to their impending captivity to Babylon.

The whole scene is not a pretty sight

Then in Chapter 2:12-13, the scene abruptly shifts to the LORD’S restoration–A “BREAKTHROUGH”!

I think we can all agree, before we were born again, our lives were under JUDGMENT because of our SIN!

Romans 3:23:  Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.

If we are honest with ourselves, some of us did some pretty ugly things we’re not proud of.

We can look back and remember, some of us were pretty messed up.  Because of that, our SIN brought the JUDGMENT OF GOD on our lives.

Romans 2:5-6:  [5] “But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  [6] For He will render to every man according to his works.”

Romans 6:23:  “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Then JESUS came into our lives and changed the course of everything!!!  Whether at the time, we weren’t aware of what just happened to us spiritually.  It still happened!!

RECOGNIZING THE FIVE “R’s” AND MORE!

We were REDEEMED, RECOVERED, RECLAIMED, RELEASED, RESCUED…brought back, purchased, delivered, dis-imprisoned, emancipated, liberated, loosened, set free, SAVED by the Precious Blood of JESUS!!!

1 Peter 1:18-19:

[18] “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”

JESUS is our Savior, our liberator, our salvager, our salvation, THE MESSIAH!!

TRANSITION TO THE BREAKTHROUGH (verse 12):

In the book of MICAH, the people, as well as the leaders of the land, were under THE JUDGMENT of God.

Then, all of a sudden in Verse 12, a transition…a breaking through the Mist of Deception takes place.

BREAKTHROUGH-Sunset-Picture-800x533

THE BREAKTHROUGH IS HERE!

It is kind of like SALVATION–

First, you are not saved, then in a moment, you open up your heart to receive Christ and confess Him as Lord.

In that moment…YOU ARE SAVED!

Here in chapter two of Micah, we have the JUDGMENT OF GOD, and then all of a sudden, there’s RESTORATION to those that have survived (“overcomers”) all the ugliness and had been broken.

BREAKING THROUGH THE SHEEP’S’ GATE–

Micah 2:12-13 (N.L.T.) – RESTORATION:

[12]  “Someday, O Israel, I will gather you; I will gather the remnant who are left.  I will bring you together again like sheep in a pen, like a flock into pasture.  Yes your land will again be filled with noisy crowds!

[13]  Your leader will break out and lead you out of exile, out through the gates of the enemy cities, back to your own land.  Your king will lead you; the Lord himself will guide you.”

GOD CAN RESTORE!

God restores, renews, rebuilds, recovers…heals, cures, mends, retouches, refreshes and revives.

He RESTORES LIVES,

He RESTORES HEARTS,

He RESTORES MINDS,

He RESTORES RELATIONSHIPS & FRIENDSHIPS,

He RESTORES FAMILIES & MARRIAGES.

I think we all know and can give many testimonies that GOD is a GOD who RESTORES!

Jesus has the POWER of RESTORATION (verses 12-13)

In the text, there’s a remnant of God’s people spoken of in their land (foretold captivity), but they were broken, wounded, hurt people who were spread out over the land and…the prophet Micah declares to them that God would restore and gather them all together again.

“I will bring them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the middle of a pasture, they will be so numerous that they will make a lot of noise.”

This is a perfect picture of RESTORATION & HEALING.

The basic understanding here is God wants to restore & heal those who have been BROKEN OR HURT AND WOUNDED!!

As we go to Verse 13, there is something very deep-seated that needs further study.

BREAKTHROUGH!!!

As I studied and meditated on this verse of Scripture, the more I read it, the more powerful it became.  The “Breaker” has come up before them; they have broken up; and…they have passed through the gate and are gone out through it.

It’s like the image I used of the Gathered Sheep in a pen, excited to burst through the narrow gate.

DELIVERANCE!!!

It is a picture of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, sudden and aggressive!  God broke down the gate of their captivity and lead them out of bondage.

It is a picture of deliverance, not conquest.  It’s not just breaking thru a barrier (the obstacle in the way) to get to the other side.  BUT…to BREAKTHROUGH; removing all other obstacles to keep them moving forward…then MOVING FORWARD!!

It’s a picture of being confined, like in prison, and all of a sudden the prison gate was blown open and set the prisoners free!!!

THE OBSTACLE?

And the OBSTACLE which was the gate was removed so they could get out; keep moving forward.

Without getting too heavy here, the basic understanding is God will remove any and all obstacles to get us where we need to be.  It is telling us today that God is the “BREAKER”.  That God is a God of BREAKTHROUGH!!!  He will remove those things that stand in our way of progress.

The Enemy Will Try to Put Obstacles In Our Path…

Satan will try to stop what God wants to do in our lives.  But God the Breaker, the God of Breakthrough, can and will clear a path to overthrow everything that stands in the way that God wants us to accomplish.

I don’t know about your circumstances, but I do know that in my Christian walk with God, when I need a BREAKTHROUGH, He will keep me moving forward.  And He can do the same for you.

We Need Some Breakthroughs Right Now…

#1.  For Our Churches–for souls to be saved and a supernatural move of Holy Spirit to touch the lives of His people.

A BREAKTHROUGH so spirit moved, that it couldn’t be refuted, challenged or denied; you knew, that you knew you were in the Presence of God.

#2.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH of the Holy Spirit Fire!

th_FIRE-1Like the AZUSA STREET REVIVAL.  It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, led by Wilbur J. Seymour, the one-eyed 34-year-old son of former slaves.  [See Footnote [ii]].

A BREAKTHROUGH so awesome, that men and women would rise up to any occasion and do the work the Lord has called them to do!!

#3.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH in our VISION…

To look further than we’ve ever gone before.  To enlarge, to stretch, to lengthen, to strengthen and not hold back.

A VISION that goes beyond our borders–“Jerusalem” first, then Judea, Samaria…and the World!” (Acts 1:8 – paraphrased). 

This not only applies to the CHURCH as a corporate body, but also as an individual Christian.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH in your VISION because right now, it’s dull and blurred.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH so that you can clearly see what God has called you to do.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH from apathy, indifference, and worst of all…LUKEWARMNESS.

We need a PHYSICAL BREAKTHROUGH!

Some need a FINANCIAL BREAKTHROUGH!

God wants us to know according to the words in Micah,  We don’t have to remain in the sheep pen…in the negative place we’re at, that He can give us BREAKTHROUGH!

God doesn’t want us to stay in captivity to any negative situation we find ourselves in.  He wants to BREAK down the gate and set us free–keep us moving in that direction.

THE GOD OF BREAKTHROUGH –

According to verse 13, God would clear a path for mankind and make a way to Himself.

Thank You Father for Your Son Jesus! 

God makes a way for us to be brought to Himself through His Son Jesus.  Thank God for His wonderful, awesome, amazing grace.

If you are reading this today, right where you are, JESUS wants you to experience A BREAKTHROUGH in your life.

You see SIN has the POWER to hold you captive.

But JESUS has a greater POWER TO SET YOU FREE FROM CAPTIVITY.

He wants to forgive you of all your sins, and come into your heart today.

If you will give Him your old life, He will give you a new one!!!


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i] : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa-Street-Revival

Photo Credits:  Google Images and computer storage/personal Pictures [“fire”].

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the Text.

 

Hide and Seek

“Ready or Not, Here I come”– “But I’m Not Ready Yet!”

A STUDY IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:

The blog-title for this POST came to me one morning, while remembering my childhood.

The past memories of growing up while living in Government Housing during the late 40’s, early 50’s.

What’s that have to do with a study in 1 Thessalonians?  Let me explain.

A Time of Celebration…

I had just returned from a Texas trip of celebration and joy.  My Dad had enjoyed his 100th birthday, along with a family reunion, and… three weeks later, he went home to be with the Lord.

So during the morning time of bible reading, it also became a time of reflection and memories of growing up in the San Diego area of California.

One thought lead to another as I laid the bible in my lap and closed my eyes, going down the proverbial “rabbit trail,” and finding myself at the end of the trail, as a 10 year old.

All the different games we would play in the neighborhood courts and protected front porches; Monopoly, Flashlight Tag, Kick-the-Can, Marbles in the nearby dirt alley ways.

No video games or “smartphones” to entertain us in those days.

When we got bored, our folks would calmly say, come “Go outside and play.  I’ll call you when to come in.”  Ouch!  But we did so, because that’s what all the kids did!  Sound familiar?

We could hardly wait for the opportunity while impatiently watching out the front door’s side window, waiting patiently for someone, anyone, to be the first outdoors:

“Hey dad…so-and-so is out playing, can I go out now?”

One game that every kid in the court and surrounding neighborhoods loved to play during the Summertime, was Hide and Seek.

The Game of “HIDE and SEEK” –

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

I loved playing hide and seek as a child.  Whether I was the one hiding, who didn’t want to get caught, or I was the one trying to catch the unsuspecting.

I remember that the seeker, or “it” as we always called him; who closed his eyes–count to 100, so everyone else could go hide.

Sometimes the seeker would close his eyes and then cheat a little–peep around and then you could hear him count,  “One, two, three, fourteen, fifteen, sixty-one and so on.”

Then you would hear him scream,  “Ready or not here I come!”  Four things I remember were always certain at that point:

#1.  He was surely coming.

#2.  He was coming when…He got ready.

#3.  He was coming whether you were ready or not.

#4.  And if you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING READY- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:

The simple Hide & Seek child’s game, how that fun game parallels the second coming of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Thessalonica, the importance of being ready and the certain return of Jesus Christ.

(5:1-2a)  “BUT AS to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord…”

THE CERTAIN RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST –

The Second Coming of JESUS is one of the most repeated teachings in all of Scripture.

And yet, the LIE EXISTS: “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET YOUR LIFE IN ORDER.”

The Apostle Paul was well aware of this in penning the letter as he explained to his readers in the church.  They should be perfectly aware that JESUS was coming again.

Reminds me of a song sung in churches years ago,

CHORUS:  Coming again, coming again;

Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening and maybe soon!

O, what a wonderful day it will be–

JESUS is coming again!

[Words and Music by John W. Peterson]

Not only did Paul tell them he shouldn’t even have to tell them again of Christ’s return, it should be obvious!

ILLUSTRATION:  A Tourist Driving Through West Texas.

991700f63d9427c720571a481bf68009While driving through West Texas, the driver stopped at a gas station to fill his tank with gas.  He happened to notice a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled “Weather Forecaster.”

Being curious, the tourist asked the station attendant, “How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?”

“It’s simple, sonny,” the older man answered with a thick Texas drawl.  “When the rope swings back and forth, its windy, when it gets wet, it’s raining, when it’s frozen stiff, it’s snowing, and when it’s gone…tornado!”

There are some simple things that should be obvious without even asking.  The imminent return of JESUS is one of those things.

THE UNCERTAIN TIMING OF JESUS’ RETURN –

(5:2 b.)  “…as a thief in the night.”

The question is not “if” Jesus will return, but “when” will He return?

And Paul’s answer?  He’s basically saying, “No one knows.”  He describes the time of Christ’s return as a thief in the night.

Just as a THIEF plans his entry with uncertain timing when least expected, so will be the coming of the Son of God.

JESUS Himself declared in Matthew 24:36,  “But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

And He later said in Matthew 24:44,  “You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

NOT BEING READY BRINGS CERTAIN JUDGMENT –

(5:3-5)  [3] “When people are saying,  All is well and secure, and,  There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.  [4] But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief.  [5] For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness.

Paul refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “Day of the Lord”  (vs. 2).

Throughout Scripture, the “Day of the Lord” was the designation of that latter time in history [Old Testament, Joel 2:31; New Testament, Acts 2:20]; God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly.

When the Lord Jesus returns–rapture His people–then soon after our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon the earth in a time which many refer to as the Great Tribulation.

The Tragedy of this day is that so many will be unprepared.  Not only unprepared, but actually deceived and actively deceiving others in the process crying out,

“PEACE AND SAFETY.”  Adhering to spreading the LIE… “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET READY.”  

While thinking there is no real danger at all, when in fact, destruction is immediately upon them.

THE CONDITIONS OF WALKING IN READINESS –

(5:6-8)  [6] “Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect).  [7] For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  [8] But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Living Daily with an Attitude of Watchfulness (vss. 6, 7).

“let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard…”  (verse 6).

As a SOLDIER is commanded to “stay alert” — “keep wide awake” — “WATCH!”, so as true believers, we too are commanded… to have an attitude of “spiritual awakeness” (gregario – Greek. word used).  

So must we as Christians!

Paul’s command to “watch” is in the present tense; meaning this must be a continual practice of the Saints (the true believers).  A matter of ATTITUDE.

A Roman soldier would be put to death for falling asleep on his watch.

The outcome could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Christ Jesus.

DISCIPLINE comes into play at this point.

LIVING DAILY WITH DISCIPLINE OF SELF-CONTROL –

Paul’s warning must not allow anything within our lives to influence our moral alertness…not anything!

Just like alcoholic beverages will greatly influence and inhibit a person’s abilities to focus–to make important decisions; sin (not the ‘drinking’ of spirits, but the results) will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions.  A person doesn’t become drunk with just one drink, but one drink can lead to two and then three.

Slowly, the person becomes drunk without noticing it and all of one’s senses become blurred, making oneself a danger to self and also others around them.

In the same way, if we do not control sin in our lives–not “watchful”–we soon are overcome by its effects and become oblivious to spiritual matters.  Therefore unaware and unconcerned about the imminent RETURN OF CHRIST JESUS.

As a drunkard who has passed out and oblivious to the world, so is the uncontrolled sinner who has spiritually passed out.  It takes daily discipline and self-control.

THE NEED OF HAVING DAILY PROTECTION – 

(5:8)  God’s Armor  “…let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

As BELIEVERS, we are clothed “in Christ” as Paul describes in detail on many occasions in his letters to the churches.

In other words, what Paul is saying, that once we are SAVED…we are battle dressed with the Armor of God, and that ARMOR protects our spiritual organs–spiritual heart and mind.

What is A HAT?  What is its function?

A HAT can be used for decoration as an accent to an outfit; to dazzle those around you and just look good!

It may be used as RECOGNITION; for identification such as a policeman’s hat or a chef’s hat…

It might be used for PROTECTION, such as a football player, or like my Dad wore his Fireman’s Helmet.

The HELMET identifies us with our savior…

It identifies us with JESUS…

It reveals to the world who we want to be identified with…but it also identifies us on how we should be acting and living!

SPIRITUAL PROTECTION –

The ARMOR we are given as a believer in Christ protects us from the enemy who is always out to destroy us…from this evil and broken world…and protects us from ourselves, from the terrible decisions we sometimes make (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The Blessings that should Come from Being Ready!

(5:9-11)  [9] “For God has NOT appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)…  [10] Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life.  [11] Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.”

The PEACE of knowing, of always being READY for Jesus’ return is surely a BLESSING.

Therefore,you will look for Christ’s Coming with excitement and with expectancy instead of Fear and Dread.

THE COMFORT OF KNOWING…that you will be SAVED from the Wrath of God!

Quote:

“God’s people should plan for a VOYAGE of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight!”  ~ Joseph Bayly.

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CREDITS:

Photos– Photo Pin and Google Images.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible.

Commentary:  Bible.org – John Walvoord, “The Rapture and the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5”; “how does the day of the Lord relate to the rapture?” – whenistherapture.com

DoubtFactor

The Doubt and Unbelief Factor In Christianity

JAMES 1:22-25 The MESSAGE Bible (MSG):

22-24  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  Act on what you hear!  Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25  But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God–the free life!–even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action.  That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

UNBELIEF –

DoubtFactor

Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. Also, during World War II, he worked for the British government as a soldier and spy.

Here is one of his noteworthy quotes I found at BrainyQuote–Malcolm Muggeridge:

“One of the peculiar sins of the 20th Century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity.  It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing.  The truth is much worse:  they believe in anything.”

I.  UNBELIEF –

Before giving a good working definition for UNBELIEF, let me give you a dictionary definition (any dictionary) of the word BELIEF:

An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded.

So Biblical Unbelief can be defined as “believing and acting based on my and the world’s lies instead of God’s Truth in His Word.”  [*See Footnote (i) ]

There Are Different Forms of UNBELIEF –

—  NOT believing God.

—  NOT believing God’s Word (the Bible).

—  NOT believing God’s way is the best way.

II.  UNBELIEF IS RELATED TO DOUBT:

DOUBT dwelt on, not confronted and challenged as displayed in 2 Corinthians 10:5,  will lead us into DOUBT:

5 “[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.”

Unanswered questions–doubt which not dealt with… can and will lead to unbelief.  

JAMES 1:8 calls it “double mindedness” which signals emotional and spiritual immaturity:

8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

III.  UNBELIEF Affects Our Stability –

JAMES 1:6 (NIV):  But when he asks, he must BELIEVE and not DOUBT, because he who doubts is like a wave at sea, blown, and tossed by the wind.

Instability in the Christian life results in…

– Miss purpose.

– Don’t take risks and miss adventure.

– Miss seeing God work and grow closer to Him in relationship.

And at a bigger level, eternity and others lose –

Romans 10:13-14 (AMP):

[13] For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord]  will be saved.  [14] But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]?  And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard  And how are they to hear without a preacher? 

That said, there are QUESTIONS that arise in “double mindedness”–instability:

How can they call on the One they’ve not believed on?

How can they believe in the One Whom they’ve not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Ultimately, God loses (Really)!!!

IV.  UNBELIEF hardened God’s work –

“And He [Jesus] did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief  (their lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus)”  (Matthew 13:58).

Where DOUBT comes from –

ULTIMATELY:  Satan; the devil.  John 8:44 says, Satan is the father of lies.

PRACTICALLY:  The World – 1 John 2:15-17 – My Heart – Jeremiah 1:22.

FUNDAMENTALLY:  Not applying God’s Word in my life – James 1:22

* WEED ANALOGY – Destroying UNBELIEF and not letting it grow back! 

I use the term “weed analogy”, because of my enjoyment of working in the garden and fighting the constant invasion of WEEDS.  An enjoyment?  Yes, because I know if I stay at it, diligent in the doing, there will be a harvest of righteousness.

1.  PERSEVERE THROUGH IT!

Learn to recognize it–Get in the Word (your bible) daily!

Walk by FAITH applying God’s Word!!!  (Remember James 1:22).

Remember in your Christian pilgrimage to build up your FAITH – “…in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”  (Romans 12:3).

FAITH grows – “Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow…”  (2 Corinthians 10:15).

James 2:22 – FAITH made complete.

Luke 16:10 – Faithful with little–faithful with more.

“MUSTARD SEED FAITH”Matthew 17:20

mustard_seedHe said to them [insert your name in place of “them”–“you”],  Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust].  For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, MOVE from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

2.  PRAY GOD WILL HELP YOU GROW –

In Mark 9:17-27, we see a desperate father of a demon possessed boy who asks Jesus,  “If you can do anything, do have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus replies,  “If You can do anything?”  “All things can be possible to him who believes.”

The father then replies,  “Lord I believe!  Help my weakness of faith!

3.  HOLY SPIRIT POWER –

The HOLY SPIRIT empowers me to radically believe and obey my heavenly Father.  I don’t have to let UNBELIEF kill me–what lies am I believing?

If I will “radically” believe–go out on a limb with trust–anything is possible what God can do!

Victory Over Sin–No More Bondage –

Romans 6:18, 22:

18  And having been set free from sin, you have become servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).  

22  But now since you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

4.  WORD AND PRAYER –

“Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of FAITH:  Faith prays, unbelief doesn’t.”

God is so HUGE!!!

We are TEMPTED when we are in trouble.

Let’s live our lives trusting Him to do HUGE things!  You might have to climb out on a limb of FAITH to see the results of your faithfulness.

Tozer said, “Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying men.”

Acting on our faith –

"Be an active doer"

“Be an active doer”

To act on what we hear, is not simply to try harder not to say, not complain or be anxious.

JAMES isn’t encouraging his readers to simply try harder to live right.

He is encouraging them [US] to do whatever they [WE] need to do in order to feed their [OUR] faith in their heavenly Father.

“But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)”  ~ James 1:25

So we turn our ANXIETY over to JESUS Himself–our desire to grumble and complain (Boy, do I need to do more weeding in this area).

We hand over each day, our relationships, thoughts, and questions to God, moment by moment, allowing our FAITH in Him to become a living thing.


CREDITS, FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]: By Nate Herbst.

Photo Credits: “Mustard Seed” photo Escape to Reality.org and the balance of photos taken from Google Images.

Bible Translations: Amplified Bible except where noted.