Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Try a little Laughter!

Some of the best events in life are truly funny--humorous, and unusual:
From Genesis  17, 18, 21:

17:19 Then God said: "...Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
18:1 Then the LORD appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.
2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground...
9 Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" So he said, "Here, in the tent."
10 And He said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.)
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"
13 And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?'
14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
15 But Sarah denied it, saying, "I did not laugh," for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh!"
 21: 3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him --- whom Sarah bore to him --- Isaac.

This entire account is full of humor and pathos. When you read the full story in Genesis 17-21, you'll find that God named Abraham's heir before Sarah ever heard of him, and He named him "Isaac," which means "Laughter," and there was a great deal of laughter in Abraham's home. Sarah laughed--she no doubt looked down at her body when the LORD was announcing Isaac's birth-to-come, and she cracked up.  "Imagine me (wrinkly me!) with a baby!  We don't even make love any more!! We are too old for this!"  And she kept on chuckling--until the LORD pointed out that He could do anything He wanted.  I may be using too much imagination here, but I think the LORD was amused, and He got a chuckle out of this as well.  He knew what He was about to do, and even though this was a holy moment in history, it was a fun moment.  In just a few days, changes took place in Sarah--wrinkles going away (God's botox?); reproductive organs regenerating.  Desire returning.  In other words, Sarah was rejuvenated, along with Abraham. It's like she got a huge shot of estrogen and progesterone (etc.) in just the right balance, and...suddenly her cycle began again, and she and Abraham became "interested" in each other all over again.  Romance blossomed. Love was in the air.  Youth had returned, and suddenly all the feelings they had missed for years were there.  All this time the LORD was looking down from heaven, grinning, and saying, "See?!! I CAN do anything!" 
It's true today, too.  "NOTHING is too hard for the LORD."  Don't forget that.  Even when it seems like all your dreams have disappeared, hope again, laugh again, and trust Him.  He will do everything He said.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Happened to Me, Part 2

Matthew 8-4: 1When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

He told me not to say anything, but of course everyone who knew me "before" knew, and I told everyone. I couldn't help it.  I gradually came to understand why He had said, "Don't tell anyone." 
A while later, He returned to my town, and I decided to follow Him.  I was too late to be one of His 12, or of His 72, but I followed Him until they murdered Him, and then I followed Him after He rose. As I followed and listened to His teaching, I found that miracles of healing and understanding are one.  In other words, there was a reason Jesus could heal me, besides the fact that He was God's own Son (I'm telling you this as a Jewish man, which means I believe He's equal with God, like John says in His teaching).  
The reason is that Jesus represented ME.  He actually took my sicknesses on Himself... 
“HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” 
That's what Isaiah said about Him. 
When He did that (I thought about this later), He should have gotten all the sicknesses He cured (there were thousands besides me), but He didn't.  Then I realized, as I thought about this, that sickness was part of the evil He came to cure--sin, death, sickness,Satan, the whole thing.  He came to "fix things completely," and what I had received was a foretaste of everything that will eventually happen to the folks who believe in Him. No more death. No more sickness.  No more suffering. No poverty. No starvation. No hatred. No anger. No evil of any kind.  When He touched me, I was healed, but He did not get sick.  But He did die, and took all my sickness and weakness to the grave with Him.  And I was well.  Then He rose, and left it all there--for everyone, and when He rose, He broke the back of evil in this world.  You may think, "There's still evil," but there someday won't be, because of Him. Because of Him, all things will be "made new," and no bad thing will survive. And for those of you who think evil is "interesting," I point to my leprosy. Is that interesting?  Good?  To have sick people lying in your streets and homes? Are funerals "interesting?" How about mass murder? or earthquakes? or volcanoes?  If you think those are interesting, it's because you haven't had any of them happen to YOU.
Jesus came to make things right, and for me, that started with me.  He made me right.  First in my body. Then in my soul.  And someday, forever.
It all happened because of a touch. I don't know why so many people resist His touch, but take it from me, you shouldn't.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What happened to me, part 1

Matthew 8: Jesus Cleanses a Leper
1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."
3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

I wanted to tell you what happened to me.  You look at me today, and I'm old, but my skin is beautiful, and I'm healthy.  One day, long ago, I heard Jesus preaching.  He was telling people how to live, and He spoke with great power.  I had watched Him heal other people, but, you see, I was a leper.  I was full of leprosy, disfigured, terribly ill, and weak.  I was afraid to come to Him.  I didn't know if His power applied to me.  I know, you think, "how silly!" But you weren't me.  I could never enter society. I was always on the fringes.  I could do nothing with anyone, except other lepers, and I was so ugly, so deformed, so sick that even they would have nothing to do with me.  I could hardly walk, because my feet had literally been eaten away by my disease, and I lived on the outskirts of life, wearing rags and eating scraps that people left for me. I had no pity from anyone. They all thought it was because of something I had done.  
When Jesus came down from the mountain (I had sat where I could barely hear him, and away from the people that always showed up to keep me away from public events), I couldn't help myself.  He just looked so...attracting.  His eyes pulled me to Him, and I could tell He saw me.  So I went up to Him and knelt.  And I said, "You could make me clean, if you wanted." I don't know what came over me.  I knew He could do it when I saw Him.  I had watched Him do so many healings, but I always thought, "That's not for lepers."  I was very afraid.  I thought He might look at me, and say, like everyone else, "Get out of here!" I couldn't have stood that.  
You know what He did?  He took me by the hand, and put His hands on my shoulders, and said, "BE CLEAN!"  Suddenly, I was well.  I can't describe it.  It was like years of sickness and pain were all gone, and I was OK again.  I looked down at my crippled feet, but they were completely whole now.  I could feel things in my hands and fingers.  My face was right again.  Then he said a mysterious thing: "Don't tell anyone!" But how could I keep it a secret?  Everyone who saw me, no longer in rags, would wonder.  So I told them.  I know it brought Him many like me, and a lot of trouble, and I am sorry for that, but I am so happy for what He did for me that I followed Him.  I still do.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wonderful Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham.
The Holy Person that shall be born of you [Mary] shall be called the Son of God.
It pleased the [God] the Father that in [Jesus] all fulness should dwell. in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son [Jesus], whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
I and the Father are one.
[Jesus is ] The chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he who believes in him shall not be ashamed. — God ... has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. —
Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life
I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Wherever Jesus is spoken of in the New Testament, His greatness shines through.  His disciples worshipped Him.  His enemies hated Him, but they respected Him.  Demons cried out in fear at His presence. Satan fled from Him.  He is not ordinary.  He is more than a king, more than a man.  As the Centurion who watched His Crucifixion said, "Surely this man was the Son of God."  However, the Centurion did not know about the Resurrection, where Jesus proved Himself to be the Son of God with power, and was raised from the dead by the power of an indestructible life, and so He conquered Death as well, because He could not be held by it.  
Jesus is worthy of YOUR worship, your allegiance, your response.  Our society makes celebrities of strange people.  It worships actors, actresses, government officials, oddballs, newspapermen, beautiful people, and so on.  
Here is someone to REALLY worship.  He is definitely not a passing fad, and He will return your worship with a love that is mightier than the grave.  He will unite you to Himself with a power that no force in the universe can sever.  He will give you a new life here and in heaven.  
He is worthy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Waiting through the pain:

When you are suffering and alone, it's tough to have faith, but that is THE time you most need it. God WILL NOT abandon you.  When you read the Bible, you find many times that the prophets of God received answers to their prayers, and help from God.  The question is, how did they feel before God answered?  Here's a small sample of  prayers in the midst of waiting:

Jonah 2: (Jonah, crying out from the belly of the fish/whale).
And said, I cried by reason of my affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell I cried, and you heard my voice
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
 In other words, Jonah was at the endpoint of his life, completely alone, and in great distress, suffering terribly.

Here's another example, from David's life:
Psalm 13: For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death...

MANY of God's servants have felt abandoned and forgotten in their suffering. Many have felt the complete loss of hope.  This is one of Satan's chief tools against you; at best, he wants to torment you; at worst to get you to take your own life, or live in utter desperation, having given up on God.  However, with God there is no "end," no "final disaster" unless you permanently reject Him, and receiving Him back again (or asking Him to take you back) is a simple choice.  
He's actually waiting for YOU if you are in this situation, and He intends to answer you.  
See Psalm 40
Psalm 40: To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth --- Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.
You will sing again.  Wait for Him. Keep praying. Don't give up. God loves you, and He is full of compassion and mercy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sick? Suffering?

Himself took our infirmities, and carried our sicknesses.
Behold! a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and begged him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. — And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and said to him, I will; be clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
Now as He approached the gate of the city (of Nain), a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry. Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Compassion. Power. Connection with God.  These are the overwhelming realities of Jesus' ministry.  However, we often believe in Jesus as if His power has diminished over time, and the things He did for people "back in the day" don't happen any longer.  This is simply not true, and God, through His Son, does touch human lives physically, spiritually, miraculously.  There are a number of "rules," however, that I've found reliable when I've seen God heal:
1.  Healing may be instant, or happen over time.  Sometimes there is just a gradual strengthening of the body.
2. The goal of healing is health.  Those who live an unhealthy lifestyle must be committed to change it.
3. Healing comes with its own burden: the consciousness that GOD is in control of your life.  If you ask Him to heal you, expect that He will want you to respond back to Him with love.
4. Healing, whether it involves the body or soul, is a spiritual act.  
5. God may choose not to heal (I have had that happen), since He is sovereign.  Even Jesus said once, 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; God is sovereign. He decides. He is also compassionate.
6. There is a special set of spiritual gifts in Christianity, called "gifts of healings," but the majority of healing comes from people praying for each other.
7. This world is not the place of final healing. For that, we await the next world, the new heaven and new earth: If God does not heal you, it will come later, in the new world.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And [God], who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
8. If you are sick, the first thing you should do is ask God for His healing. The Bible discusses a Jewish king, Asa, who was diseased in his feet--but he never got well, because he sought the physicians, but not the LORD. God does not say, "No doctors;" He does say, "Seek me first."