Thirty-eight years later

Everyone loves a good story! And everyone loves the action! The fights, arguments, climactic points. These form the key elements of the story. Settings, character building, and description are necessary, but they aren’t usually what we remember.

But our lives are not lived like stories. We don’t get to skip to the action, to the climax. Sometimes parts of out lives go on and on without resolution. Days, months, years, decades all pass, and we still wait for the solution.

So it was with the lame man in John 5. We are told that there was a pool in Bethesda where an angel would come down and “stir” the water. The first person in the water after the angel moved it, would be healed. We don’t know how often the angel came, but there were a great many people.

When Jesus passed by, he found a man who had been there a great while. By the end of the story, Jesus heals the man and he leaves joyfully.

Those are the main ideas. That’s the plot. That’s the climax and resolution.

If we skim the story, we miss out on little details. We lose sight of the reality that was that lame man’s. In verse 5, we learn, that the man had been lame for 38 years. It is half of a verse. Barely noticeable to us as readers. But I assure you that it meant a great deal to that man.

38 years of his life he had been lame.

38 years of struggle. 38 years of pain. Was he able to find work at all? Or did he just beg? Did he go hungry at times? How long had he waited at that pool? How many times had he tried to crawl using only his arms? How many people had he seen be healed at that pool while he was too slow to get in? How many nights had he cried himself to sleep wondering if his life had purpose? How many people mocked him for his infirmity? How many times did he wish he could walk?

38 years

years

38 years of his life

And we blow past it in half a sentence.

He spent all those years waiting for healing. Waiting for the power of God. At the end of those years he was still by the pool. He hadn’t given up.

Did you catch that?

After 38 years he hadn’t lost hope.

I challenge you, whatever you are going through in your life, whatever you need God’s power for, whatever you are praying for – Don’t. Give. Up.

Seek God, pray, ask for His intervention, and don’t give up. This man’s story was written down so that 2000 years later we could be encouraged. He waited patiently, and God used his life as a testimony.

Won’t you stand strong and wait for God’s power in your life today?

tomorrow?

Or for as long as it takes?

I promise you it will be worth it.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

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Nicodemus saw the witness

Have you ever seen the impossible? Maybe you were at a magic show, or a fair? Someone ate fire or they sawed a woman in half? A bunny disappeared and then reappeared? We know these acts to be fabricated and only slight of hand, but what if you saw such a thing that was undeniably genuine?

The wonder. The questioning. The demand for answers.

These are all feelings I believe you would feel. This is exactly how Christians should make the world feel. In John 3, a man named Nicodemus approached Jesus. The first thing he says to Christ is this, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

Nicodemus saw what Christ had done. He knew the miracles were real. He wanted to know. Wanted to understand. He was looking for answers.

As followers of Christ, we are to inspire the same feelings in people around us. We may or may not work miracles, but our testimony and character should inspire wonder and questioning in the heart of unbelievers.

“How are they so calm when they are in so much trouble financially? What do you mean God will take care of you?”

“How can you go on happy when you have such a terrible disease? What do you mean you’re not afraid of death?”

“How can you speak so kindly of such a horrible person? What do you mean God wants you to love your enemies?”

These are the types of questions that the world will ask when Christians live in accordance to God’s Word. This is the types of questions they will ask YOU when you live fully believing God and His Word!

I challenge you, develop a heavenly mindset. Live in faith and live knowing that God is real and His promises are sure. Your lifestyle and attitudes may do more to attract people to Christ than your actions will ever do.

When Nicodemus spoke to Jesus, he didn’t ask a question. But the Bible says that “Jesus answered and said . . .” And then Jesus told Nicodemus the gospel. When you live in a way that shows God’s power, people will have questions they may never ask. But you will be able to give them the answer- Jesus.

 

Among whom ye shine as lights

Do you find yourself fighting with people? I don’t mean like duking it out, but arguing and bickering. I don’t know, maybe you do literally get in fights and have black eyes all the time. However the contention may be, God does not want contention in your life. He wants you to be at peace.

Philippians 2:15 says, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings." God wants us to be at peace with our neighbors. He want us to have contentment in our relationships and in our actions. Why? He tells us in the next verse.

The next verse gives the reason as, "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" He wants us to be blameless. Having a good reputation. He want us to be harmless. Not bringing detriment to each other. He wants us to act like His children. In acting like His children, we will not be not need to be rebuked. He wants us to act like His children not only because we are His children, but because when we do, we spread His light into the world.

So I would like to challenge you, do everything without contention and strife. God doesn’t want His children fighting one another. He wants us to above reproach. Let us ask God to help us live in maturity, so He can glorify Himself through us, His children. Let us pray that He will work in us to teach us to act without contention, so we can shine as lights even more in this crooked and perverse nation. Let us act like the Father whose children we are!

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." – Matthew 5:15

Are you a part of the family?

There is a powerful drive in all of us to find a place where we belong. People do all kinds of crazy things to get initiated into clubs, fraternities, gangs, etc. They want a place where they are accepted. They are willing to do much to be accepted. Many people no longer have a traditional home where they are loved and accepted. Sadly, less people can really say from their hearts that "There’s no place like home." As Christians, we have a hope. Our home is not of this world. No matter what our family background, social status, or nationality, we have a place in Christ.

Colossians 3:11 says, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." In Paul’s letter to the Colosians, he makes this powerful statement. He clarifies a principle very clearly. He says that a person’s culture does not matter, their religious background does not matter, and their ethnic background has no relevance. He even says that it does not matter if you are a servant or a master. All are equal in Christ.

If we continue reading Colossians, we find several commands. Verse 12 and 13 tells us to be merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, and forbearing (to encourage and build up one another). Then the verse says specifically, "If any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." So in short, God wants His family to get along. But more than this, He wants us to care for each with self-sacrificing love.

Are you searching for a place to belong? Look to Christ. Ask Him to save you and forgive your sins. He can give you a home that this world never could. Have you found Christ to be your refuge and strength? Look for others you can build up. You should never look at others the way the world looks at them. Don’t judge people by their background, race, gender, or social status. Ask God to help you see others as He sees them: as the valuable creation He died for.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." – Galatians 3:28

Are you spiritually sane? (Part 3)

If God loves us and wants to be with us, why can’t we just go to heaven now? Many people have asked this question and actually wondered why we must stay on earth. I would like to share some truths with you that may help you to understand.

Looking once again at the maniac of the Gadarenes, we find that Jesus miraculously enters his life. For the purposes of our illustration, this is equivalent of revival. When Jesus enters this man’s life, Jesus rescues him from his condition. Immediately, the man wants to go with Him. We find in Luke 8:38-39 that Jesus tells him rather, "return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee." Just like this man, we are called to tell others of how much Christ had done for us.

Paul provides the perfect example in Philippians 1:23. Paul says, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:" In this verse Paul says that he wants to go to be with Jesus, but in the very next verse he says, "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." In essence, Paul says that he wants to be with Jesus, but he will stay and minister to God’s people because that is God’s will for him.

I would like to challenge you, share what Christ has done with others. God has a reason for keeping you on earth. He wants you to help others glorify Him also. May we all do as the man of the Gadarenes did, "And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him." This man offered his life as a testimony for all, to teach them that Christ’s power can change lives.

Are you sharing how Christ has changed yours?

"I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me." – Daniel 4:2