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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Five Minute Friday: Willing

Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, where a group of writers get together and write about a one word prompt for 5 minutes.  Today's word is  "willing"

And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him. 
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell facedown and begged Him, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.…-Luke 5:11-13 (Berean Study Bible)

I have been camping out in the book of Luke lately it seems. Luke was a doctor, and he is the author of this Gospel. When we read any kind of literary work, we should consider the author. The Gospels are co-authored, so to speak. Luke was moved by the Holy Spirit to write these words, the scriptures say. So, when we read this Gospel, it would behoove us to consider the vessel that wrote it, and the intention of the Lord in including this passage.

So, the disciples are with Jesus at this point, and Jesus is in one of the towns near/around Galilee. I would have to go back and read the full story, to figure out which town it was. And Luke was not present when this was written. It seems like I heard that Mary, Jesus’ mother, may have been the one to communicate this story to him.

This story says, a man came along who was covered in leprosy. He crossed Jesus’ path. We aren’t really told the circumstances of how he came along. He would have been considered unclean. The Jews wouldn’t have wanted him near them.

I feel like he had already heard about who Jesus was. I imagine this was a common event, for people to hear about Jesus and pursue him, especially those who were sick.

And then he calls him Lord. This was something you will see throughout by people who get healed by expressing their faith in Jesus. This is another one of those stories where people had heard something about Jesus, believed it, came to him, and were healed.

He did express the phrase, “If you are willing…” Maybe he didn’t know if leprosy was included in the list of things Jesus would heal. It was a skin disease that prohibited him from being around people, including his family. He was excluded, exiled, an outcast. Maybe he just needed that affirmation from Jesus, that he was indeed willing, for his faith to take off!

And Jesus expressed that he was indeed willing, but he touched him first. I haven’t noticed that before. He touches him first, which probably caused the man to exhale, an exhale of rest and faith. Because nobody was allowed to touch him.

And immediately the leprosy left him…Luke 5:13 (Berean Study Bible)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Names in the Life of Jesus

There have been quite a few times that I have heard people speak about women in the Bible and try to combine the different personalities, like the woman who was a great sinner, or Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Bethany. But, I think they were all individuals. I have a couple of reasons why.

The first reason was the authors were specific. They called them the names of people to whom they were connected, or linked them to the name of a specific region. Like, the mother of James and John (John 20:20) or Mary and her sister Martha (John 11:1). Mary Magdalene was most likely called that because she was from a region called Magdala. And the Syrophoenician woman was called that because that is where she was from.

Second, if something changed about them, usually the writers let us know. Like when Jesus renamed Simon. The author would state different names for one person., and Simon, who was also named Peter (Acts 10:18).

Finally, and this is opinion, I feel like we short change the ministry of Jesus when we combine persons. I believe that a lot of those people were all very interconnected, more than we know. But Jesus touched so many lives. How do I know that?

John 21:25 says, "There are many more things that Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written."

He's a great Jesus, and we want all their stories to be told. Because in them, we find ours.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Fishers of Men

When I left my home in my early twenties to go to Bible school, I couldn’t see what lay ahead. I talk about this a lot because it was one of the larger, pivotal moments in my life. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had stayed at home. I was still very fragile spiritually.

When I got to Oklahoma, I settled for two years to go to Bible school. Many people had their tuition paid supernaturally, which made me question whether I was even supposed to be there or not. I worked and paid my tuition monthly. My mom did give me my first payment.

When it came time to choose which program I was supposed to go into, I laboured a lot over the decisions. There were six choices, evangelist, pastor, missions, youth, childrens and helps ministry. I chose missions, partly because of my wanderlust, and partly because that’s all I could see myself doing.

One morning before the second year of school started, I was at home visiting my family. I was asleep on the couch when the Lord woke me up with a question, “What group do I want you to go into?, “ I believe he said. He answered his question for me, “The Pastor’s Group.”

Well, I had already made my 2nd year selection. So, I called the school and told them I thought I needed to change my group.They told me what I needed to do to change my group. I asked them how long I had to do this. They said, “Today is the last day. It was last week, but the dean extended the deadline.

Wow. I was like, “Oh my! Okay! I am on it! “

So, I went into the pastor’s group. And now, I am really glad that I did. Looking back, I couldn’t see myself clearly. But God could. He knew my purposes and His plans for me, even though I didn’t. Now, I am really happy with my life. I have a family, and I share Jesus while writing on my blog, in conversations with friends, and sometimes on video. Talking to people about God is something I have always wanted to do.  

Consider this story in Luke 5. These men had been fishermen, probably for a long time. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long, but I imagine that had been there profession for a while.  They saw themselves one way.  Jesus saw them another.

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.-
Luke 5:1-7 (NKJV)

Sometimes God can see what we can’t. He sees you different than how you might see yourself. The story continues.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!-Luke 5:8

He is leading and teaching us to do things we never even dream of or even thought would be possible. But His end goal with all of is the same, to make us fishers of men.

For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.-Luke 5:9-11 (NKJV)

I am sure that I will look back on these moments right now with amazement, and there will be things he is training me for, that I cannot even see. He is doing the same with you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:9)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Truth Will Make You Free

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, 'When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove you are my true followers. For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.-John 8:31-32 (The Passion Translation)

Freedom. Not bondage. Freedom.

An example of a free person in the Bible is the woman who was a great sinner in Luke 7. She touched Jesus, and he loved her and let her. She couldn't come to him if he was teaching the same thing the Pharisees were, because they were heaping a whole lot of condemnation on people. The room where she was touching him was in the house of a Pharisee, and he was saying to himself, "surely if this man were a prophet, he would know what sort of woman was touching him."(Luke 7:39)

Jesus knew exactly what sort of woman was touching him, and he was glad. He sat there and let her anoint him with the perfume and wash his feet with her tears. She poured out her love on him. Why did she do that?

Well the Bible says in 1 John 4:19, that we love him because he loved us first. He had to have loved her first. She heard about him. She heard about who he really was, so she knew she could come to him. She knew he was safe.

I always look to these stories to remind myself who Jesus is. Other people aren't always a good example of that. We are fallible and make mistakes.

That's why we carry a message. It's a message about Jesus.

We have this treasure in jars of clay. We are vessels.

He loves us so much. He loves me so much. He loves you so much.

Don't look to other people to find out what He is like. Look to Him.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.-John 8:32 (NKJV)