Category Archives: Musings

Fresh and seasoned thoughts about the practice of Sabbath.

Rejoice Anyway

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Philippians‬ ‭4:4‬

Do you ever find yourself asking, “What is there to Rejoice about?”

When you are struggling, it’s difficult to finding Joy in the everyday occurances of Life.

There are times when we need to tell ourselves to rejoice.  We may not feel like rejoicing, but we need to rejoice.

That’s what Paul does here. He’s not telling us to rejoice when we feel like it. He’s commanding us to rejoice, whether we feel like it or not.

This is really an amazing command given Paul’s circumstances. Paul is composing this letter, with these instructions for contentment and rejoicing and thanksgiving, while he’s in prison!

His freedom has been stripped away.  

He has been cut off from his comforts and his loved ones.

His situation is the antithesis to what we would think leads to rejoicing.

But rejoicing is exactly what he knows he needs to do.  

When we make rejoicing a priority, God gets the glory and we get the benefit.  Rejoicing elevates our mind and our heart out of our current predicament.

How can we make REJOICING a habit?  What does that look like for us and what does it do for us?  What is an example of REJOICING while in a terrible circumstance look like?

Try this: The next time life gets you down, rather than looking around at the mess you are in, look up to God, and tell him Thank You for the first good thing that comes to mind. See if that doesn’t provoke another thought about something good to thank him for. This practice of Rejoicing and Thanking God might not change your situation, but it will change how you are able to overcome the problems you in.

Gratitude and Contentment Blog

November is a time for Thanksgiving. It’s a season for looking back over the previous 10 or so months and taking stock of how good God has been to us. We need to pause and see how God has been with us, how he has comforted us, how he has grown us, and how he has taught us to lean more and more on his grace.

I think it would be appropriate to call this time of reflecting a Season of Gratitude. Christians, of all people, ought to be excellent at practicing gratitude. All that we hope for in Christ is made possible, not by our merit, or hard work, or by anything we possess. All that God offers us and all that he has promised us is a product of his GRACE. Because our salvation is a grace thing, it’s only right that we live our lives as a response to God’s graciousness. That response is called GRATITUDE.

The key to greater gratitude toward God is greater contentment in living.

When I think about a passage that shows us what contentment looks like, I think about the 23rd Psalm. I think about the contentment of those sheep who are led by streams of water, who lay down in green pastures, who follow their shepherd down paths of righteousness. That Psalm isn’t just a description of who God is and what God does. It’s also a description of what we can look forward to as we learn to trust God as our good shepherd. When we follow him, and learn from him, we are going to find ourselves resting in those green pastures, being refreshed by the living waters. And even when there are enemies all around us, we’ll find that our God has prepared a table of blessings before us.

God’s sheep are always in need of learning how to be content in God so that they can express greater gratitude to God.

There is something about a TRUSTING people that exudes contentment. There is something about the image of the Good Shepherd with his sheep, guarding them and guiding them, that helps us understand the kind of contentment that God desires for us.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23

God’s Great Work In Our Lives Evokes Prayer From Our Lips

Prayer is never our initiative.  It is always our response to God’s initiative in saving us.  

What God has done for us.

I was pondering that thought this morning as I was reading from 2 Corinthians.  In this passage I was reminded that God has, through his grace, changed us. The change he has brought us is not a product of our efforts to improve ourselves, but a complete regeneration brought about by the work of Christ. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Without the work of God in our lives, regenerating us and restoring us, we are not able to live for him.  But since he has come to us, and called us to himself, we are now able to experience the new birth that come by faith in Jesus Christ.

What God is doing in the world.

What God did for us, he is doing in the world.  God is at work all over the world drawing people to himself.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

The world has many problems, but all of the world’s problems are rooted in the rebellion in Genesis 3.  When mankind, through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, fell into sin, we all fell hopelessly out of relationship with God.  God has been working since the fall of man to restore sinful mankind to himself.  The work of Christ reverses the curse we inherit from Adam.  

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:22 

What God wants to do through us.

God chooses to work through his people.  As he saves us, restores us, and redeems us, he also calls us into his kingdom’s service.

 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

An ambassador is a lofty position, but it properly denotes the responsibility that has been laid upon us.  We represent our Heavenly Father here on earth.  Through our witness and our ministry, we make the Good News that Jesus saves known to the world around us.  

The length God goes to accomplish his work.

The Apostle Paul concludes his thinking in this passage with a pearl of great inspiration.  He reminds us about the unimaginable length God went to secure our salvation.

 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus, sinless, perfect and divine, took upon himself our sin, and our guilt, and our human depravity as he suffered on the cross.  The blood he shed on Calvary washed away our iniquity.  We are no longer guilty, we are forgiven.  Our forgiveness and our salvation are not a product of our merit or good deeds, but a result of the radical change afforded us by the grace of God.

If God was willing to go so far to save us, consider how far we should be willing to go in order to participate in the work God has given us. 

 



Bound Together in the Lord’s Supper

There are a few times each year when our worship service takes on an elevated element of reverence.  Any Sunday that we observe the Lord’s Supper is a Sunday of heightened awareness of what Jesus did for us.  This coming Sunday we will share the Lord’s Supper during our morning worship service.

The Lord’s Supper is a reminder that we are connected, as Christians, by our belief in Christ.  We believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  He lived a sinless life but died a sinner’s death on the cross.  In his death he became the atoning sacrifice for our sinfulness.  We remember that he was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose victoriously from the grave on the third day.  And, we remember that he is coming back, just as he promised.

It’s in these beliefs that we find true spiritual unity.  Our unity in Christ is what binds us together whenever we worship, but most certainly when we share the Lord’s Supper.

When we share the Lord’s Supper, we become active participants in the worship service.  As the elements, the bread and the cup, are passed down the pew from one person to the next, we have an opportunity to serve one another.  When the bread is passed, the one giving says to the one who is receiving, “This is Christ’s body broken for you.”  Similarly, when the cup is passed, each person says to their neighbor, “This is Christ’s blood shed for you.”  We are all preachers of the New Covenant when we share the Lord’s Supper.

The bread we eat and the cup we drink are a temporary observance.  We believe there will be a time when the Lord Supper will be no more.  Paul tells us:

 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
NIV 1 Corinthians 11:26

Each Sunday, whether we are sharing the Lord’s Supper or not, is an opportunity for us to be bound together in our worship of a good and loving God.  A God who does not count our sins against us, but rather provides a way for us to experience salvation in the “name that is above every name.”  

I’m looking forward to seeing you this Sunday.  If you’re not able to be in church with us, consider joining us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/FirstBaptistChurchNederland at 10:15 AM on Sunday mornings as we broadcast our entire worship service.

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Mrs. Wilkinson’s Sound Advice for our Graduates

This past Sunday I asked Carolyn Wilkinson to share with our graduating seniors words of wisdom as they enter into a new season of their life.  Her message was so important that I wanted to offer it to as broad of an audience as possible.  Here is a video of her advice to our graduating senior, as well as the text of her message. Be sure to share this with any graduate in your life.

 

From Carolyn:

When I was asked to say a few words, I had no idea what to say to you as you begin your life after high school. Then I remembered a Facebook conversation on this very subject. These are some comments from my college classmates—now friends.

Study and be yourself!

Never underestimate the value of a college education. You will be with those who will be making changes all over the globe.

Don’t take yourself too seriously and realize that homesickness affects everyone. Be grateful for the college experience as it’s happening… and study with others.

Don’t be afraid of the faculty. Get to know them and let them know you. (This is much easier with some than others.)They have experiences and expertise that you need not only at school but later in life too.

Get involved and get to know other students. Your life-long best friends will come from college days. Lean on each other, support each other and study together.

Best advice: Give continuous effort to developing deep relationships with as many students and teachers as you can. Next: be actively involved in local church ministry (and or the Baptist Student Ministry) and be a dependable member of the fellowship; not just in a circle of the students, make church a priority, work hard both on and off campus. But, don’t forget to have fun.

Get involved. Stay on the weekends (if you are living on campus). Make friends. It’s a great time to get an education

Enjoy college, don’t stress out on making straight A’s, get involved with sports, music, drama and making friends for life , and you might even find that person you will spend the rest of your life with, and lastly serve and honor the Lord .

Don’t limit your circle of friends to those you are around all the time. Branch out and cross into other groups to get to know a variety of people. Education isn’t just academics. It’s a time to explore possibilities. Don’t limit yourself to your known talents. Try something new. Get involved on and off campus. Enjoy!!

Involve yourself in campus life…pour yourself into the lives of those around you and let them pour into you.

Don’t drop out. Have Fun. Love Each Other.

Have fun and write down the stories (they will be fun to remember years down the road—you may need little reminders then as to what really happened)! Love Jesus and love others with all you are!

Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t be afraid to change your course. It took 4 years to learn I didn’t want to be a teacher. (Actually, I was pretty sure earlier than that, but too stubborn to adjust my course.) I still learned many things and made many friendships that I treasure. So thankful for my college experience!

Go to class

Take a course you don’t need to take for the joy of learning. Complete an internship or applied course. Ask questions, lots of questions. Don’t ever stop asking questions. Read books you are not required to read. Develop a skill that you didn’t have going into college. Collect memories, this experience will not come again. Make friends for life. Grow in faith.

Do not choose a major your freshman year…you will change your mind a few times. FINISH your degree. Have fun!

Don’t STOP!

Don’t go back home the first day! It will get better, and you will have the time of your life!

Study but take time to meet new friends and don’t give up after just a few weeks. It gets better after 3 or 4 weeks so please don’t give up!!

And lastly as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding!

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The Coming Harvest and God’s Patience

Back in high school, through some of my Ag classes, I was part of the Range and Pasture Judging Team.  A couple of times each spring we would get on a bus and rendezvous with hundreds of other young agriculturalists from all over central Texas in someone’s pasture.  Our task was to grade the land we were observing based upon various criteria such as depth of soil, presence of different types of grasses, and the overall condition of the grazing available to livestock.

The hardest part of the Range and Pasture Judging competition, for me anyway, was the identification of grasses.  To this day I still struggle to tell one type of grass apart from another.  

I remember one competition that we went to that was particularly hard.  I can’t remember how many grasses we had to identify. It might have been 20.  Each grass we had to identify was marked with a small stake with a number.  The judges that set up this competition did something to frustrate all but the nerdiest of the grass lovers.  They put a little stake beside a few blades of grass that had just begun to emerge from the topsoil.  This young grass could not have been even a week old.  To make matters worse, they had cleared the ground around this grass from all other vegetation.  There was no way to make a guess based on what other grasses were growing around them.

When my turn came to observe the little grass I was just as stumped as all the other competitors.  It appeared to be growing in a little bunch, so it could have been Little Bluestem.  But in my heart it thought the judges were trying to weed out the false Texans by marking an immature batch of the state grass of Texas, Sideoats Grama.  Of course it did seem like this little tuft of greenery could have been Buffalo Grass, a grass I still cannot positively identify to save my life.  I usually guess Buffalo Grass if I wasn’t sure about a grass in a competition.  I tended to write down Buffalo Grass a LOT.

It turned out that I was wrong on all of my thinking.  These tender little shoots,  freshly emerging from the ground, though they looked like the makings of the glorious Little Bluestem, or could have potentially have been the beneficial Sideoats Grama, turned out to be a little weed called Perennial Threeawn.  

Perennial Threeawn is a weed, but don’t just take my work for it.  The experts at Ag Mecca, TAMU, also say it’s a weed:

“Livestock may utilize this plant prior to the formation of seedheads, but for the most part it has poor economic value for both wildlife and livestock.”
https://uvalde.tamu.edu/herbarium/grasses-commom-index/perennial-threeawn/

Jesus tells a little story about a field that was sown with good seeds, but before they began to sprout, an enemy came in at night and sowed bad seeds in the same field.  

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”
(Matt. 13:24-30 NIV)

Jesus gives us a picture of God’s mercy.  The weeds in this story are a type of grass called tares.  The roots of the tares grow in such a way that they are intertwined with the roots of the wheat. To pull one of these out of the ground would be to also uproot the other.  

The tares and the wheat, as they are growing, look very similar.  The landowner in the story knew that to send his workers into the field before the harvest to purge the field of the weeds would cause irreparable damage to his precious wheat.  The best course of action was to wait until the harvest time.  At harvest, the difference between the wheat and the weeds can be easily discerned.  Even a worker who didn’t know the difference between Buffalo Grass and a hole-in-the-ground could tell the wheat apart from the tares.

When we get frustrated at the evil in this world, remember that God has a plan to deal with evil, in all of its forms.  God is not slow in bringing his judgment; God is patient.  In his patience he knows the day and the hour of the judgment against evil and the salvation of the righteous.  As God brings time to a close, he will do so in such a way that not a single stalk of his wheat is lost. That’s how precious we are to God.

Our job, between now and the judgment, is not to identify those who are among the wheat and those who are among the weeds: our job is to love.  God calls us to love and pray, even for those who are our enemies.  

May the mercy we have received translate into mercy that we are able to extend to those around us.

Obeying the Difficult Teachings of Jesus

Jesus presents us with spiritual challenges that stretch us.  He commands us to do things that are well beyond our strength.  He calls us to do that which our fallen hearts find no joy in doing.

Consider this teaching from Jesus:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28 NIV

Our natural self does not want to love our enemy.  We do not have a desire to do good toward those who hate us.  We naturally want to return a curse for a curse given.  And praying for those who mistreat us is about the last thing that would show up on our prayer list.

But these are things that Jesus commanded us to do.

When I counsel with children who come to faith in Christ, I always tell them that being baptized, as a sign of our faith and in obedience to Jesus’ command, is one of the easiest steps they will take in their life of being a Christian.  As we can see in the passage above, Jesus calls us to do things that are much more difficult than being immersed in water.

But why do these difficult things?  Our enemies are probably not going to get any nicer to us.  Those who hate us are not going to suddenly have a change of heart.  The ones who have cursed us will most likely continue to curse us.  And there is not a high likelihood that praying for those who have mistreated us will force them to act any better toward us.

The answer to the WHY question has nothing to do with changing the hearts of others…it has everything to do with us representing our heavenly Father here on Earth.

To be Christian is to follow Christ, in all that he says and does.  We show the world that we belong to God when we reflect the goodness of God to those around us.

We see Jesus loving those who were his enemies….

We love because he first loved us.
1 John. 4:19 NIV

So we love our enemies.

We see Christ doing good for those who were against him…

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NIV

So we forgive and bless those who have harmed us.

We see Jesus blessing those who cursed him…

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Luke 22:47-51 NIV

So we seek the spiritual well being of those who have cursed us.

And we hear Jesus praying for those who mistreated him, even for those who were nailing him to the cross…

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34 NIV

So we pray for those who have injured us.

As we Love, Forgive, Bless, and Pray, especially for those who have hurt us, who have caused us pain, we show ourselves to be children of our Father in Heaven.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:36 NIV

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Jesus Invites Us To Give Him Our Struggles

After astronaut Scott Kelly returned to earth on March 1, 2016 from his record setting stay in space, he was two inches taller than when he blasted off 340 days earlier on March 27, 2015.

Scott Kelly, on the right, grew a little taller than his twin brother Mark, while he was orbiting the earth in the International Space Station.

The absence of gravity on the International Space Station, orbiting 249 miles above the earth, allowed his spine to expand and increase his height. Now that he’s back on the planet dealing with gravity, he will soon shrink down and match the size of his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

This physiological phenomenon is a figurative illustration of what life on earth does to you – it weighs you down. We all feel somewhat stooped over by the weight of guilt, loss, disappointments, regrets, and every other challenge common to humanity.

We may not look any shorter, but everyone knows what it is to feel that load on our shoulders so it only makes sense that we would do well to accept the offer Christ:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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Heaven is a Rest without an Ending

My weekends are a little different from most people’s weekends. I work on Sunday (I’m a terrible Sabbath Breaker) but someone has to do the work of leading and preaching and ministering on the Lord’s Day.

Because Sunday is a working day for ministers, I take off on Fridays.  So when I talk about a weekend for me and Kristi, I’m referring to those Fridays and Saturdays where our schedule is not filled with normal weekday activities.

When Kristi and I hear about a new restaurant opening, or a friend tells us about a place we need to go visit, the weekends are our time to enjoy those experiences.  I can’t tell you how much we look forward to our weekends together.

The weekends offer us the space in our schedule to tend to the things that the workweek does not allow.  Sunday through Thursday is always RUSH-RUSH-RUSH, but Friday and Saturday are more relaxed.

The REST that we look forward to on the weekend helps make our rushing, and working, and striving during the workweek purposeful.

One of the many things that I’m looking forward to about Heaven is the REST that God offers us there.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
Hebrews 4:9-10 NIV

In the story of the Creation Week (Genesis 1:1-2:3), every day of creation, except one, was concluded with a formula.  Take the 6th day of creation as an example.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning– the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31 NIV 

Similiar wording shows up after day 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

But when you get to the 7th day of the Creation Week, something interesting happens.  Rather than concluding the day with a closing formula, the 7th day, the day of God’s rest, is left unbounded!

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesus 2:2-3 NIV

Understanding the Rest that God entered into on the 7th day of the Creation Week is key to understanding the Sabbath-Rest that remains for God’s people. It’s part of our heavenly hope!

When God rested, he didn’t stop doing everything.  God continues to work, but the process of creation was over at the end of the 6th day.  God entered into a Rest of Delight and Enjoyment.

When we get to Heaven, there will be plenty for us to do.  We will not cease our activities, rather we will engage in activities of enjoyment and delight!

Just as God takes delight in relating to his children, we will take delight in relating to God and all who are part of our spiritual family.

The Rest we enjoy in Heaven will be much different than the occasional resting we enjoy on the weekends here on Earth. Our rest will be unbounded!

It will be a Rest that will never be disturbed by the urgency of an alarm clock!

It will be a Rest unmarred by an unforgiving schedule.

It will be a Rest of purposeful delight for all eternity!

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Jesus Offers Grace, ESPECIALLY to Doubters

Doubt is part of the human condition.  Doubt is not the absence of faith.  Even those who walked with Jesus had doubts. The good news is, they were not condemned because of their doubt.

John the Baptist in Prison

The most famous doubter was Doubting Thomas.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of the resurrection, Thomas what with.  Though Jesus gave convincing proofs to the others that he was alive, when they reported the news to Thomas, he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

The next week Jesus made an appearance just for the sake of Thomas.  At this second appearing, Jesus took up Thomas’ concerns and told him:

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
John. 20:27 NIV

Thomas, without touching Jesus or asking any further questions, declared: “My Lord and my God!”

You can read about Thomas HERE….

But Jesus has other doubters, and one in particular, was closer to him than even Thomas.  

John the Baptist’s Doubts

Jesus’ cousin was John the Baptist.  John’s ministry was crucial to the start of Jesus’ ministry.  When Jesus went to John to be baptized in the Jordan River, John said to him:

“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Matthew 3:14 NIV

One day, while Jesus was still in the area of the Jordan river, John saw him from a distance and said to those around him:

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John 1:29-31 NIV

John was eventually thrown into prison for his preaching. He offended the King of Judea, and even more so Herod’s wife Herodias.  Herod was intrigued by John, but Herodias wanted him dead.  Herodias eventually had her way.

While John was in prison awaiting his fate, he sent messengers to Jesus.  Through the messengers he asked:

“Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Matthew 11:3 NIV

John, who initially had such conviction about who Jesus was, seems to be filled with doubt at this point.  

Jesus was as gracious to John as he was to Thomas.  He sent back word through the messengers to John that he was indeed the one who they were expecting.  These are the proofs Jesus offers John:

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”  
Matthew 11:4-5 NIV

The Blind See

Jesus healed the blind by touching their eyes, but he also heals our spiritual blindness by allowing us to see the fullness of God within Him.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

The Lame Walk

Jesus commanded a man who was paralyzed to take up his mat and return home. The man was immediately healed and the crowd who witnessed his restoration was amazed.

Jesus restores us to be able to follow him. He has a pilgrim’s path for us to walk.  The earlier Christians were called Followers of the Way.  Jesus heals our crippled hearts so that we might follow him on the path of righteousness!

Leprosy is Cleansed

Jesus healed leprosy by touching a man with this horrible disease.  To touch a leper was to take on his infirmity. It was seen as a contagious condition, one that separates a person from God.  

Jesus came to take on our diseases. He took up our infirmities and he bore our sin on the cross.  

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV

The Deaf Hear

Jesus took a man who could not hear or speak, placed his fingers in his ears and touched the man’s tongue, and commanded them to be OPENED.  From that moment on the man could both hear and speak.  We can only imagine the praise the formerly deaf and mute man gave God!  

Jesus opens our ears to be able to hear from God:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Romans 10:17 NIV

The Dead Are Raised

Prior to the time of John’s imprisonment Jesus had already raised one person back to life.  He would raise others.  

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
John 5:24-26 NIV

Our hope today is in the Resurrection.  God has something more in store for us that we can even imagine!  

Here are a few of the blog posts I’ve written recently on Resurrection if you need a refresher course:

The Good News is Preached to the Poor

The first sermon Jesus preached was from Isaiah 61 because he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV

Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah!

And just as John praised and exalted Jesus after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus praised John in the hearing off all who were around him. Jesus did not condemn John for his doubt.  He identified John as one of the greatest figures in salvation history, raising him up to the level of the greatest prophet in the Old Testament, Elijah.  Here are Jesus’ words about John:

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
Matthew 11:7-14 NIV

When you doubt, don’t despair.  If John the Baptist, and the disciple Thomas suffered occasional bouts of doubt, so will we.  

When we doubt, let’s remember the prayer of the man whose son was healed by Jesus:

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark. 9:24 NIV

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