Wednesday, April 28, 2010

crying out and running after

Jesus Heals the Blind

27 After Jesus left the girl's home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on us!"
28 They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?"
"Yes, Lord," they told him, "we do."
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen."30 Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, "Don't tell anyone about this."31 But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.
32 When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn't speak was brought to Jesus.33 So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!" they exclaimed.
34 But the Pharisees said, "He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons."

matthew 9

i love references to the old testament! note here that the men call Jesus, what? the Son of David. this is the first of several times in matthew that people refer to Jesus by this title. why is this title so important, you may ask? the Son of David is the title of the messiah who will be from david's family line and restore the kingdom that will last forever (2 samuel 7:12-16). so to call someone the Son of David was a pretty big deal, in other words, you're saying that this is the man that is going to save the entire Israelite nation, the one that they've all been waiting for, their victor and savior that will free them from the roman empire. this name has big implications. not only is He called the Son of David but He does something that would happen in the messianic age, He heals the blind (isaiah 35:5).

i really like this part, too. i'm just looking at verse 28. notice that Jesus didn't invite them into the house. haha they just waltzed right on in! they came right after Him because they knew that they couldn't let Him get away. i'm completely sure what the jewish customs were back then but i'm still pretty sure that it's not polite to just run into someone's house. in other words, they ignored social norms to chase after this man. it doesn't remark this in matthew account, but i'm guessing Jesus was impressed with this act of faith and so He healed the men. Jesus tells them not to say anything and yet they go around spreading the word to everyone!

i'm just going to focus on the first part today. i just love the way Jesus acted and the way the men acted. here we see the men screaming out to Him by His name and we see that Jesus doesn't do anything then and there. it's only when these men follow Him into the where Jesus is staying that He does something! and i love the men's reaction after what happens, they just start going around and telling everyone about it, even after being told specifically not to! i think a lot of us resemble the men when they're just calling out to Jesus by name but don't follow through in actually following Him wherever He went. not to mention this men were blind so we know that it must have been pretty tough to do so. maybe sometimes God wants to see what our faith is made of, to push us to go a little bit further, to see if we're actually desperate for Him. for those who have other options, they would just say, "ah, it's not worth it! i'll find someone else who will help me or i'll just keep trying to help myself," instead of surrendering and following after Him.

so are you the person who only cries out to Jesus and expects Him to cater to you? or are you the person who runs after Him because you know that there's no other alternatives?

Friday, April 23, 2010

remembering desperation

Jesus Heals in Response to Faith

18 As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her."
19 So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him.20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,21 for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."
22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said,"Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well."And the woman was healed at that moment.
23 When Jesus arrived at the official's home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music.24 "Get out!" he told them. "The girl isn't dead; she's only asleep." But the crowd laughed at him.25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

matthew 9

the woman who was hemorrhaging for 12 years. man, i've read or heard about this story so many times that i'm just desensitized to it. i don't see the starkness and beauty of it the way that a new believer could. i don't see the miraculous healing and the life changing things that Jesus did for people. 12 years. 12 years of blood flowing from this woman. 12 years of rejection because of being ritually unclean. 12 years of not being able to go worship at the synagogue. 12 years of probably being passed up by any possible mate because of the ordeal she was going through. 12 years of not finding any solution. 12 years of brokenness, pain, and suffering. all for this moment. she has nothing to lose. she's tried everything. her only hope is Jesus. there's nowhere else she can go. she thinks to herself, "if i can just touch Him, i'll be healed!" wow. what faith. Jesus knew it, too. it's exactly what Jesus was looking for. it's exactly what Jesus is looking for. the purity of desperation.

i've talked about this before. but it's an amazing reminder of what type of heart Jesus is looking for. He wants people who are truly desperate for Him, people who have no other options, people who aren't just going to pass up on Him when something else comes up. He wants people who know that He's they're only hope. He wants true followers who aren't wishy-washy with their faith, people who put all their bets on Him, all their stock in Him. i have to admit that sometimes, or most of the time, i'm anything but desperate for Jesus. sometimes, i'd rather be watching tv, playing video games, editing photos than spending time with Him. i have ALTERNATIVES to spending time with Jesus. He's not my everything. He's not the center. honestly, the times when i feel desperate for Him is when i'm broken and the world falls down around me and i'm reminded that there's nothing that stands after life comes crushing everything in its path except Jesus, my rock. that's when i'm reminded of my desperation. my heart goes into reset and my perspective is back to where it should be. remembering that everything falls down, crumbles, decays in the end and the only One who stands is Jesus. i remember that i realistically don't have anything, i can't save anything, i can't keep anything. the only thing i can keep is Jesus. and He's above and beyond anything that i could invest in in this life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

throwing out the routines

A Discussion about Fasting

14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, "Why don't your disciples fasts like we do and the Pharisees do?" 15 Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 "Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. 17 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."

matthew 9

ok, i admit i had to look up some outside sources to help me understand this passage! but here it is! when we take everything into context here, Jesus is talking about, not how the moral laws would be abolished, but the ceremonies of the old covenant would be done away with because Jesus would soon fulfill them. the new way of living after Jesus takes the punishment for our sins and ultimately setting us right with God is going to be different from the old way of living for God. before, they had to do all these rituals and ceremonies to be made right with God, basically being obedient to the law. but the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross was so that we wouldn't have to do all these things that were impossible to do in the first place and He would fulfill those rituals and ceremonies once and for all!

the new way of living for God now is by simply letting Jesus into our hearts and letting Him change us from the inside out. oh snap!! so here's the question! what "rituals" or "ceremonies" do you feel you have to take part of or simply "do" to make yourself right with God? is it a prayer that you pray every time you mess up? is it doing something for someone else so that you feel you made up for whatever you did wrong?? we have to remember that we can't make ourselves right with God by these rituals or ceremonies. it's all by grace. you're forgiven when you just simply and genuinely want forgiveness. i think a lot of us trick ourselves into thinking that we have to follow little guidelines for ourselves to be the "good" christian. and sometimes we measure others to OUR standards. whether it's not cursing or giving money to the homeless because we think that it'll earn us some points with God. and honestly, we end up just making up new rituals and laws for ourselves and others as we forget about the grace of God! remember, it's not the things that you set out to DO, but it's a slow and sometimes frustrating process of learning how to simply BE.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

mercy, not sacrifices

Jesus Calls Matthew

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?s"
12 When Jesus heard this, he said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do."13 Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: `I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'s For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

matthew 9

this is a very big passage. a lot of us know it. Jesus came to heal the sick, not the healthy. and the simple truth is, everybody's sick and everybody needs Jesus, it's just some of us don't admit it. some of us think that following Jesus is enough, as long as we don't truly let Him in and open ourselves up to Him. some people think that as long as they go to church and pray and read their bibles, that they're "healthy." maybe some of us think that if we just accept Him one time, then we'll be good forever and we won't have to do anything afterwards. well, the reality is that we have to continually open ourselves up to be changed by Him. it's not a one time thing. it's not a shallow thing. i think we'll always need Jesus to be our healer, i don't know if we're ever just fully "healthy" enough to live this life on our own. i don't think we were meant to. and i see a lot of people who think they're fine just because they call themselves christians and still have plenty of hurts bottled up inside of them that still affect them deeply. these people aren't dependent on Jesus, they're dependent on themselves. i think we've all been there and some of us still are, where we think we're self-sufficient. where we think we finally have it all figured out and we stop depending on God. and i think that's where it gets dangerous. when we stop depending on God and depending on ourselves again because we think we're "healed" up. that's when pride and sin come creeping right back in, when we stop leaning on Jesus. i know that it's happened to me before, and that's when i transformed from a sick patient who was in desperate need of a savior to a pharisee.

some of us may not think it, or we're so oblivious to it, but we might be pharisees. i think there's a lot of us out there who think we know more about God than a lot of people and act like we're better than people who don't go to church. there's a lot of self-righteous people out there, and i'll admit, i'm still struggling to get out of that mindset and attitude. for some reason, i get the feeling that i'm a lot less "sinful" than others so that makes me better. man, am i wrong. my righteousness and good deeds, compared to God's righteousness and goodness, are like dirty rags. i get proud of my accomplishments, i start boasting in myself instead of Jesus Christ. and i start looking down on people who don't do as much as me and that's straight up evil. it hardens my heart. bitterness and resentment build up. so when i come across this verse, my heart breaks, "i want you to show mercy, not sacrifices." sacrifices. deeds. routines. duties. i do a lot of this good stuff that should make me a good Christian, right? i mean, i go to church and sacrifice my sunday, or i go to wednesday bible study or prayer meeting, i do devotionals, i do all this good stuff! that's what He wants, right?? nope. He wants to see me show true, genuine mercy and compassion to people who need it. He doesn't want to see passing judgment on every single person. He wants me to be Christ-like. and what did Jesus do? He ate and fellowshipped with the sinners and the outcasts of society.

Jesus finishes out with saying that He came to call not the people who call themselves righteous, but those who KNOW they are sinners. so here are the questions. do you remember that you're a sinner, someone who just misses the mark? do you remember what that humble attitude was like? saying, "God, i'm not worthy to be forgiven or to receive your free grace." or have you turned into a pharisee, who overlooks his or her own sin and only points out others' flaws? do you think that you're "healed" up enough? have you stopped depending on Jesus? what are your sacrifices, routines, duties that you think "qualify" you or make you "good" enough for His love? have you been showing MERCY? have you been, instead of just doing things for God, letting Him change you from the inside out so you actually truly live out love?

Monday, April 19, 2010

inward, outward, beyond

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

1 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town.2 Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man,"Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven."
3 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, "That's blasphemy! Does he think he's God?"
4 Jesus knews what they were thinking, so he asked them,"Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?5 Is it easier to say `Your sins are forgiven,' or `Stand up and walk'?6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Mans has the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!"
7 And the man jumped up and went home!8 Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority.

matthew 9

so putting everything in context, we acknowledge that in the past couple of passages, Jesus has been healing and performing a number of miracles. the people loved it until it affected them in a negative way, they had to give up something, the people in the country of the gadarenes didn't like that Jesus had cast demons into their pigs, resulting in the loss of the drive of their economy. instead of coming to Jesus and praising Him for getting rid of the demons, they ask Him to leave. now, this next part is another defining point in Jesus' ministry. for a while, Jesus was already tiptoeing the line with the pharisees, and they didn't have too big of a problem with Jesus, until now. Jesus tells the paralytic to be encouraged for His sins are forgiven. i'm guessing if you were a pharisee knowing and studying for years that only God forgives sins, your ears would perk up as well hearing this "man" was starting to do something that only God could do. now, to the religious leaders, Jesus wasn't just performing miracles, He was allegedly blaspheming. they couldn't stand it! they were absolutely furious that He would claim to have the same power to forgive sins as God, and in essence, claiming that He, Himself, was God.

Jesus knew what they were thinking and so asks them what is easier to do! what is easier to physically see? sins being forgiven or a man being able to walk knowing full well that he's a paralytic? to prove that He forgives sins and has authority on the earth, Jesus calls the man to stand up, pick up his mat, and go home! and he does! and the crowd praises God and affirms Jesus' authority.

so, here we see Jesus proving His divinity to the people, one of the many instances where we start to see who Jesus really is, more than just the Son of God, but God incarnate. so what's the bigger picture here? i think this is the most important part, that Jesus forgave the paralytic. but even Jesus asked this question Himself, "what's easier to see? sins being forgiven or a physical representation of that taking place?" and i guess we live in a christian society where it seems that the inward forgiving of sins is enough and it never really seems to be revealed in our lives. people never really see the divinity of Jesus through us, or even the divinity of the Father. and yes, to be forgiven for our sins is all good and beautiful, but to just have that and do nothing about it is the part that Jesus doesn't like. He wanted to show the authority He had on earth. we, as Christ followers, know that He has authority, but does the world see that in our lives?? so, Jesus' question is then given to us! "what's easier to see, thien? your sins that are forgiven inside of you? or how you start living in response to that??" whoa. i want the world to see the authority that Jesus has. i want everyone to see the power that He has to change lives. i want my friends and family to see that He's not just a God that changes inwardly and secretly, but changes our hearts so radically that it affects every aspect of our lives. let the world see the forgiveness of your sins through the way that you respond to it. let it show outwardly and beyond.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

holding too tightly

Jesus Heals Two Demon-Possessed Men

28 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes,s two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.
29 They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?"
30 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance.31 So the demons begged, "If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs."
32 "All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
33 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men.34 Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

matthew 8

found an awesome take on this on another blogger's site so i thought i'd share it here!

Matthew 8 is filled with miracles and healing: a man with leprosy, the faith of the centurion, Peter's mother-in-law, many demon-possessed people, and the calming of a storm. This was all well and good for the people, but in their minds the greatest test for Jesus was still to come.

At the tombs outside of the city, two demon-possessed men lived. They were so violent that no one could pass by them. The people were scared of the men...but the demons were more scared of Jesus. Before He even approached them, they started to argue and beg for Him to cast them into a nearby pigpen instead. Jesus agrees, and sends them into the pigs next door. They immediately ran into a lake and drowned every single one. Kind of an odd ending, if you ask me, but still incredible anyway. Jesus not only delivered the men, but the demons made them so angry that they drowned themselves just to be released and away from the Son of God. You would have thought that the people would fall all over themselves to just follow Jesus and be a part of that, right?

Nope...actually, they asked Him to leave town...immediately.

Wait a second...they asked Jesus, the Son of God, after all these miracles, to leave?



They couldn't get past the loss of the pigs. Now, I understand in that time, being a livestock owner was part of everyday life, and the we don't know if the pigs belonged to just one man, or if it was kind of community pigpen where they all kept their piggies for eating or for sale. What we do know is that when those pigs took the dive into the lake and never came back out, everything changed. This Jesus that performed those many miracles now had touched them personally...and it cost them something. This miracle wasn't fun for them, and it affected their pocketbooks. Instead of understanding the cost of following Jesus, they begged Him to leave before He cost them anything else.

You know, we aren't that much different today. We all love to hear stories of miracles and healing and of great things going on, but when God asks for our talents, finances, and our time, we're quick to shut Him out and ask Him to leave us alone. We want to keep God at arm's length: close enough to call when we need help, but far enough that we don't have to invest anything in the relationship. That's not how it works. A relationship with God is just like any involves time spent with Him and in His Word, talking and listening, and a commitment to stand with Him no matter the cost.

I know I'm holding on to some of my "piggies" a little too tightly, hoping that since I'm giving Him most of me, He won't ask for those things I treasure. Problem is, those are the "piggies" He wants the most, because that's where my heart is.

Here's hoping I can lose a little "pork" for Him today.

from Rob's Random Ramblings