Miracle of the String: She Took Action

In the story of the woman with the flow of blood found in Mark 5:25-34. Not only did this woman hear about Jesus coming her way, not only did she decide in her heart to step out in faith, but this woman put her faith into action.

In any event that you attend there are two types of people: you have participants and you have spectators. The participants are the ones that get involved in the action. They are the performers on stage. The players on the field in a sporting event and so on. The spectators are the people that sit back and watch the action unfold.

This woman decided in her heart that that day she was going to be a participant. She knew that if she could just touch the string of Jesus’ cloak then she could be healed.

So, with all her might she pressed through the crowd and with one last motion she stretched out and grab a string and instantly the flow stopped. Power flowed out of Jesus and into the woman and she received her healing that day.

The amazing thing about the miracle that day was Jesus did not touch her, she touched Him and her life was changed forever that day. This shows that when we reach out in faith Jesus is there waiting to give us our miracle.

Today if you are needing a miracle, reach out to the one that can give you your miracle.

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Miracle of the String: She Spoke the Words of Faith

In Mark 5:25-34, we read a story about a woman that dealt with an issue of blood for twelve years. This woman was desperate and needed a miracle. The first step of faith that she took was “She heard of Jesus”. But her steps of faith didn’t stop there. The next step that she took was “She Spoke the Words of Faith.”

I don’t mean that she spoke these words out loud, but she spoke these words within herself. Verse 28 says, “For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.'”

She had heard about Jesus. She knew of the healing power that flowed from Him and she knew within herself that if she could press through the crowd and just touch the string on His garment then she would be healed.

Words are powerful. There is power in the words that we speak.

Proverbs 18:21(NIV) says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” We have the power, through our words, to speak life and death into our situation. We have the power to speak to our faith.

There are times that we belittle ourselves. We talk down to ourselves and say things like, “God doesn’t care about me.” Or “God won’t heal me.” The truth is God loves us and all He wants is the best for His children.

Part of putting our faith into action is speaking life into ourselves and speaking to ourselves in faith. You need to change the words that you say to things like, “I can be healed.” And “I can receive a miracle.”

The words we speak does matter. We need to speak life into us.

God’s Search and Rescue Plan Involves You

search and rescue

When children go missing, parents go looking. And that’s what God has done. There’s not a square foot on earth that doesn’t have his footprints. He began searching for them the moment Adam and Eve made a choice and lost their way. He sent the nation of Israel looking. He sent his Son to “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Today he sends his church. In Acts 1:8 we find his search and rescue plan: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus sent the disciples into the middle of Jerusalem and told them to wait. While they were waiting a crowd gathered for Pentecost. Some estimate Jerusalem swelled to over one million people during this time. The Holy Spirit came on them, Peter preached, and the church swelled from 120 to over three thousand.

It didn’t stop there. They devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). That first church in Jerusalem grounded its people in the Word, in deep community, to sharing meals and sharing Christ, and to prayer. They had to. The task at hand was too big for them to accomplish on their own. They needed each other. Mostly they needed God.

That hasn’t changed, has it? We still have the same commission to be witnesses for Jesus in our Jerusalems and in our world. We are still called to the Word, to love each other, to share life, and to prayer. And we are still searching for those who have lost their way.

We are still searching because the Father still has children who are missing. So go to your Jerusalem and wait. God will bring you power as you serve him there. Let’s not leave a square foot without our footprints.

Finding the Door to an Eternity of Sundays

doors

In the spring of 2010 archaeologists unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor.[1] This door was meant to take the official from death to the afterworld.

Jack found another door to the afterlife. He taught English literature at Oxford and spent many evenings walking the gardens of Magdalene College. And it was one evening while walking with his friend John that Jack discovered his way.

His door seems to have found a way into his writings as a wardrobe through which his characters could enter Narnia, a kind of medieval version of Paradise. Jack, or C.S. Lewis as we know him today, went on to become one of the great apologists for the Christian faith in the 20th century. He wrote of death in this way: “If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?[2]

How would you write about that time you take your last breath and the moment right after?  Will you look forward to it? Or will it be a terrifying moment for you? And would you want to be able to face your death unafraid?

Jesus enables us to do that, you know. He moves us from a Friday and Saturday of death and disillusionment to a Sunday of victory. Your way into that victory is through a door. Jesus Christ.

Jesus said of himself, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). And all of the Easter stories tell this.

In another garden, another Magdalene—Mary—was looking for Jesus’ dead body to anoint, but it was missing from the tomb (John 20). Two angels speak to her but she is so upset she misses them. She keeps talking about her “Lord” and that he had been taken away. It took Jesus coming to her and calling her by name before she recognized what had happened.

You’ll have your Fridays and Saturdays. Days that are dark and days that are lost. In those days when you can’t find the door out, do as Mary did. Keep calling Jesus “Lord.”  Keep calling and keep looking for him.

Because if you keep calling him Lord, he’ll call you by name. And when he does, you will turn and find the door to an eternity of Sundays.

[1] Door to afterlife from ancient Egyptian tomb found http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_antiquities

[2] http://en.proverbia.net/citasautor.asp?autor=14386

The Greatest Question of All Time

A BBC magazine answered the “101 greatest questions of all time.”[1] What did they include? Well, questions like “What is OK short for?” Answer? “OK comes from ‘oll korrect’, a deliberately misspelled writing of ‘all correct.’ It was popularized in Boston newspapers around the 1840s when it was fashionable to go around spelling things incorrectly for humorous effect.”

The #1 “greatest question” was “Where is the safest place to stand outside in a thunderstorm?” And, in case you must know the answer, it is “A car or other enclosed metal structure is the safest place to be in a thunderstorm.”

Jesus asked a question that should have been first on the list. He and the disciples were in Caesarea Philippi. Call it the shopping mall of religion. It was located in a region known as Paneon, or the home of the Greek god Pan. Once it had been a center of Baal worship. A temple was located there dedicated to the godhead of Caesar. And other temples of Syrian gods dotted the landscape.

Plenty of gods to choose from in Caesarea Philippi. So Jesus asks his disciples this question: “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Oh, at first he asked them what others were saying about him. The answers came back in rapid fire: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

But Jesus was more concerned with their answer to his question, so he asked, “Who do you say I am?” They all looked at this homeless carpenter and thought about that question. We don’t know how long they thought before Peter replied, “You are the Christ.”

[1] “Greatest 101 questions of all time: 1-20” found at  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/

4696372/Greatest-101-questions-of-all-time-1-20.html

When Jesus Comes Knocking

The knock came at the door of the inn. It was late. We can imagine the innkeeper had been burning both ends of the candle. The census crowd had packed Bethlehem and he had finally locked the doors for the night.

Until the knock. He shuffled his feet through the dark and made his way to the door. Opening it with the slightest of cracks he peered out to see a young couple. Looking more closely he saw a young woman who was about to give birth to a child.

Rooms were full. It was late. And they didn’t look very special. He had to decide whether he would find room for them or not.

And you will too. John’s rendition of the birth of Christ comes in a few short words: “The Word  [logos] became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Greek hearers understood the word “logos” as the representation of God. The essence of God was found in his Word.

Hebrew readers perked up to John’s message too. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” He book ends the first sentence of his book with the phrase “in the beginning.”  They knew it as the words that began the first book of the Torah, or Genesis.

John writes about beginnings. John writes about God’s very representation dwelling among us. And he writes to tell us that we have the same decision to make as the innkeeper. Will we find a place for Jesus in our lives or will we send him away?

Some send him away because he looks too plain. Nothing special about him. Don’t make that mistake. He comes to common places like your home and common places like your heart.

Some send him away because life is crowded. Many demands and many deadlines. And you’re not sure if you have room for him. But he only comes to give you what he has already done. He desires to give you forgiveness.

And some send him away because they think it’s too late. They’ve already done too much that can’t be forgiven. They’ve already gone too far away.

But it’s never too late. Not with the one who comes and makes his dwelling among us. You need only to open the door.

Join us Sunday as we continue The Story at 10:30 am.

I Can Make a Difference part 3: Do You Have an Hour to Spare?

Okay everyone, one more time. Say it with me, “I can make a difference”.

Do you believe that? Do you truly believe that you can make a difference? What do you have to do in order to make a difference in this world that God has placed you in? Today I want to look at the thought, “Do you have an hour to spare?”

In Matthew we read a very familiar passage of scripture. It is one that we read all the time during Easter. It is the story where Jesus is praying at the garden of Gethsemane.

Let’s look at Matthew 26:36-46.

36. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

37. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.

38. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

39. He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

40. Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?

41. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42. Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

43. And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

44. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

45. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

Look closer at verse 40. It says, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?’”

Do you notice how he singles Peter out? Why Peter? I believe it was because He was closer to Peter and He saw great potential in Peter as the leader of the bunch over anyone else.

And He asks Peter that question, “Could you not watch with Me one hour?”

I can see Him looking at Peter and maybe He has tears in His eyes, maybe there was just a look, but it was as He was telling Peter, “One hour, that’s all I’m asking you for is one hour.”

Maybe Jesus has come to you today and He is asking you, “Do you have an hour to spare?” The disciples couldn’t make it an hour at that moment. And knowing now what Jesus was about to go through I’m thinking surely you could give Him one hour. But the disciples didn’t know what He was about to go through. They didn’t know until it happened.

But we know. We have the Bible to tell us what Jesus went through. We have the Bible to tell us about the trial that He was falsely accused of. We have the Bible to tell us about the beating that He endured. We have the Bible to tell us about the nails that weren’t driven in His hands and feet. We have the Bible to tell us about His last words on the cross as He hung there and said it is finished. And we have the Bible to tell us about the resurrection. So surely after we know all that we know we can make the decision to spare an hour for Him.

After all, look at what He has done for us.

Here’s the challenge. I challenge you to commit one hour of worship, one hour of personal devotion, and one hour of service each week.

The hour of worship will be easy if you attend church each week, but if for some reason you miss church one week, just make it up at home by listening to worship music and find you a good preacher on TV or podcast. Most weeks the one of hour of service could be easy depending on what you do in the church to serve. But serving doesn’t have to just be in the church, it could be volunteering somewhere else. And the devotion time will be something that you may have to work on. Some of you no problem you are already doing this. But think about it this way, if you took Monday through Saturday and spent just 10 minutes a day on reading your Bible and praying you would accomplish one hour in a week.

Think about how much time we give to other things in our life. How many hours a week do you watch TV? How many hours a week do you play on the computer? How many hours a week do you spend on your relationships? How many hours do you spend doing housework? Sure, none of these things are bad things, but we spend time on them because we want to do them.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Could you not give me just one hour?” Just one. And I believe that He is asking that of you today. Do you have an hour to spare?

I want to close with an article written by a man named Monte Unger. It was written in a publication called NAVLOG in January of 1975. This is what it says.

How often have you talked with someone on the telephone who seemed to be in a hurry and wanted to get on with more important business? Or visited with someone on the street and received that same hurried feeling? You’ve undoubtedly experienced it…and didn’t enjoy it. And, perhaps, you have also been guilty of this. If you have, why not decide to tithe time, save up chunks, bits and pieces of it, and give them away to people who interrupt your pre-established plans?

It is a great principle of love that people don’t interrupt, not really. Perhaps there shouldn’t even be such a word as interrupt; for when people come into your existence, even for a brief time, that is a wonderful moment of experience for both of you. Relish it. Probe it. Invest some of the time you have tithed. We can’t afford to indulge in the luxury of “being too busy and important” for another person.

We have time for such inanimate things as pieces of mail, vast sprawling shopping centers, the television program which starts at 7:30. But what about relationships with people? Isn’t that a great deal of what life is all about–loving other people? Remember Jesus? How he raced about, hurrying from one city to another, collecting great crowds on the way to give them a few minutes of hurried heaven-data, then dashing on to the next place?

No, that is not the picture of Jesus the New Testament gives. He had time for people. In a crowd, a woman touched his robe. Lots of people were probably pushing against him, touching his robe, but he discerned the urgency in this particular touch. He stopped, taking valuable time for this “interruption.” His disciples were full of fire and computer-like- efficiency. They wanted to get on with the task of getting something done, even if they didn’t always know what that “something” was.

Once a bunch of small, grimy-fingered kids came along and wanted to climb on the Master’s lap. “Get those kids out of here,” thought the goal-oriented disciples.

“No, let them stay. Let’s enjoy them and let them enjoy us,” thought the true-goal-oriented Man from heaven who knew and expressed the great worth of the individual.

The next time a person “interrupts” you, think not of your work and your deadlines; rather, think of that person’s needs, of his covert compliment in desiring to spend a few moments with you. Your meeting may be a significant point in each of your lives, because it is an encounter with another person God has created. you may impart something crucial to his fulfillment–or he to yours.

Paul prayed: “May God, who gives patience, steadiness, and encouragement, help you to live in complete harmony with each other–each with the attitude of Christ toward the other” (Rom. 15:5, TLB). Are you caught up on your time-tithe?

Again my question to you today is do you have an hour to spare?