February 24 No Miracle Maker

Photo by Cathy Ginder

Photo by Cathy Ginder

“John did no miracle:  but all things that John spake of this man [Jesus] were true.”   John 10:41

You may be very discontented with yourself.  You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty.  Mediocrity is the law of your existence.  Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity.  Yet you may live a great life.

* * * * *

John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.

John’s main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine.  John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.

* * * * *

Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, “The dawn! the dawn!” and then dies away.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye.  If you must live with uncongenial people, set to the conquest by love.  If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.

* * * * *

We are doing more good than we know, sowing seed, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone and say, “He was a good man; he wrought no miracles, but he spake words about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself.”  George Matheson

From Streams In The Desert, compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

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April 11 Need Reminding?

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Image by Derek Murphy

Joshua 3:1-4:24;  Luke 14:7-35;  Psalm 80:1019;  Proverbs 12:27-28

“On the tenth day of the first month, the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal.  And Joshua set up at Gilgal twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.  He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendents ask their fathers ‘what do these stones mean?’ tell them:  ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’  For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over.  The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.  He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so you might always fear the Lord your God.”  Joshua 4:19-24

 

Twelve stones

from the Jordan

stood complete,

rolled from the

dry river bed.

Each one declared

God’s power to save.

 

Stone reminders

answer to prayer

‘Lord how are we to get

from here to there?

How do we get to

the Promised Land?

 

Christ on the Cross,

picture complete

of sin nailed,

hands and feet

blood poured down.

He emptied himself

as our iniquities filled

him with dark, deep

despair.

 

Bread and wine

reminders

fill us

each time we partake

of the Lord’s Body

and Blood

in remembrance of Him.

Christ is the dry ground

we cross,

salvation holds back the

power of sin, death and

Satan

until we are safe on the

other side.

All glory to Him!

 

 

 

January 24 Thunk

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Photo by Danny J

Genesis  48:1-49:33; Matthew 15:29-16:12;  Psalm 20:1-9;  Proverbs 4:20-27

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread.  Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees.”  And they began discussing among themselves, saying “We have brought no bread.”  But Jesus aware of this said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact you have no bread?  Do you not  remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  How is it you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread?  Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees.”  Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but the teaching of the Pharisees and Saducees.'”  Matthew 16:5-12

The V-8 commercial illustrates missing the obvious–“missed your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables today?”  THUNK  “You could have had a V-8!”

The disciples witnessed two major miracles–Jesus feeding multitudes with just a few morsels of bread and fish.  Then they found themselves without any bread.

THUNK!

They were worried about their physical welfare.  Jesus was more concerned about their spiritual welfare–concerned that the skepticism of the religious leaders would rise in their hearts to create doubt, weaken their faith.

THUNK!

What are you most concerned about today?  Getting food for the stomach or food for the soul?  The world’s skeptics would have you believe that there is nothing beyond this world anyway so “eat, drink and be merry.”

THUNK!

Remember ‘whose’ you are through faith.

Remember that you’ve received the Bread of Heaven and will never hunger or thirst again!

Lord God, thank you for filling us with the Bread of Heaven–with the life-giving, life-sustaining Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Help us be on guard–to be aware of the yeast or leaven of those who would have us believe that faith in you is “not enough”, or a waste or pure foolishness.  Keep us firm in our faith, never doubting that your provision for our body and our soul is complete.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

May 9 Quizzing You

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I Samuel 5:1-7:17;  John 6:1-21;  Psalm 106:13-21;  Proverbs 14:32-33

“…and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.”  John 6:2

Jesus’ disciples were learning–learning more and more each day they spent with their Teacher.  Miracle after miracle.  Cure after cure.  Healing after healing.  Deliverance after deliverance.

What could their Teacher NOT do?

What did the disciples really know?   Really believe about Jesus?

Jesus put them to the test.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ John 6:5

Brain freeze.

Memory erase.

Panic.

“Philip answered him, ‘Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.'”  6:6

Looking only at their own resources and not to Jesus, the disciples seemed to be at a complete loss.

Though not completely…a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish was found.

That was all Jesus needed to feed five thousand men. (five thousand men!!!!)

He took what they had, thanked God for it and passed it around.

It was more than enough.

Is God quizzing you?

Whatever your situation you have more than enough because your God has more than enough!  He’ll use whatever you offer up to Him.

Give thanks.

Pass around what you have to meet the needs of those around you.

Pass around—

 Love

  Compassion

     A helping hand

A dollar or two

  A kind word

     Forgivenss

        Half hour of your time

 A hug

   A shoulder to cry on

What you have might not seem like enough, but with God it’s more than enough!

Lord God, when you give us a pop quiz, testing our faith, may we remember that with you “all things are possible.”  Grant us grace to meet your challenge and the needs of others around us, to give of ourselves and to trust you to supply what is needed.  In you we have an endless supply of the Spirit’s fruit–love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  May we use them for the good of others and to your Glory.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”      Hebrews 13:20-21

April 3 Power In That Name

Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19;  Luke 10: 13-37;  Psalm 75: 1-10;  Proverbs 12: 12-14

I think that the next time I hear someone take the name of Jesus in vain, use it as an exclamation, or to swear by, I’m going to ask them, “Do you know there is power in that name-Jesus?  Do you know that people have been healed, demons expelled, souls saved by the speaking of that name–Jesus?

There is power in that name.

“The seventy-two, returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ ”  Luke 10:17

Jesus rejoiced along with his disciples–he was happy to hear that ministry was accomplished through them.

He reminds them, however, that though miracles and power over evil are breathtaking, it is far greater to know that faith in Him has secured them a place in Heaven, “But rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10: 20

Maybe after I get over the shock of being bold enough to ask someone those questions, I can share a few more thoughts on the name of Jesus.  Like:

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Philippians 2: 10-11

And I’ll pray that the next time that person uses Jesus’ name it will be to thank and praise Him for sins forgiven and a life made new.

 Lord God,  we praise you that the name of Jesus has power to banish the evil one; remove our sins; heal the brokenhearted.  We pray for opportunities to share what Jesus has done for us–to use His name to bless and not to curse.

 ‘O Jesus, shepherd, guardian friend, My Prophet, Priest and King–My Lord, my life, my way, my end–accept the praise I bring.’ (John Newton)

 In Jesus’ powerful and precious Name we pray,  Amen.

“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near.”  Psalm 75:1

 

March 20 Hometown Boy

Numbers 30:1-31:54;  Luke 4:1-30;  Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 11:20-21

Since Jesus left his boyhood home of Nazareth, Jesus had been baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin, John;  he’d been led by the Spirit into the wilderness for a 40 day face-to-face with the devil; and he’d begun his preaching ministry which drew rave reviews, “and everyone praised him.”  Luke 4:15

Time to visit the home place…“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.” …to do what he’d was accustomed to doing for the last 30 years…“he went to the Synagog on the Sabbath day.”  This time…“he stood up to read.”  The Isaiah scroll just ‘happened’ to be the chosen reading for that day.

Jesus’ eyes caught the part that talked about him and he read aloud, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61:1-2

The Hometown boy said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:21 

Everyone nodded their approval and murmured among themselves-‘Joseph the Carpenter’s son?  Not bad–good actually–no, marvelous!

Yeah, right…Jesus knew where this would go so he boldly put words into their mouths:”Physician, heal yourself!”  Do for us what we heard you did in Capernaum.  Let’s see what you can do, Hometown boy.

Jesus then reminded them of the prophets Elijah and Elisha and how they couldn’t do any miracles in their home country because of the peoples’ lack of faith.  He reminded them that these prophets went into gentile territory and there worked acts of healing and miracles, thereby implying that God’s words and works were for ALL people.

The Hometown crowd did not buy into that–they sought to shut Jesus up for good. ‘Don’t let it be known that this young man with radical ideas came from our town!’

So, they “drove him out of town…to the brow of a hill…so they could throw him down the cliff.”  Luke 4:29

“But passing through their midst, he went away.” vs. 30

The Hometown boy left  town for good–he had lots of preaching, teaching and healing yet to do.

Lord God,  It’s sad but true that your gracious words are rejected by many.  That for lack of faith, many lives remain unchanged.  You’ve seen lots of rejection–and we who are called by your name see that rejection too.  Yet, you continue to reach out to the lost.  Give us courage and strength and determination and your Spirit to do the same–for You do not change–Your love and compassion continue through all generations.  We give you thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your glory.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live and in your name

I will lift up my hands.”    Psalm 63:2-4

Feb. 23 Amazed

Leviticus 14:1-57;  Mark 6:30-56;  Psalm 40:1-10;  Proverbs 10:11-12

I don’t get it.  The disciples, by Jesus authority, went out and healed the sick and drove out demons.  They witnessed the feeding of five thousand plus people using just five loaves of bread and two fish–with 12 baskets filled with leftovers to spare.

And yet…

When they saw Jesus walking on water…when they felt the the wind immediately cease when Jesus entered their boat “they were completely amazed.”  Mk. 6:52

I’m amazed that they were amazed–but I shouldn’t be so quick to judge “for they had not understood about the loaves;  their hearts were hardened.”  Mk. 6:52

Well, that explains it–their hearts were hardened.  But–what does that mean?

That even though the disciples witnessed miracle after miracle after miracle-that seeing wasn’t enough–wasn’t the same as believing?

When would the disciples finally “get it?”  When would the ‘eyes of their hearts’ be opened and all doubting cease?  When would they cease to be amazed?

I get it.

The disciples were mere mortals who were face to face with the Divine.  They had limited understanding.

Just like me.

Lord God, I’m often like the disciples–I’m terrified and amazed by circumstances around me.  Yet, you are with me, just as Jesus was at the side of the disciples.  He did not condemn them, but pressed on towards the goal of making disciples as he headed toward the cross.  Forgive my lack of faith–‘open my eyes Lord, that I might see Jesus’ and believe.  In His name I pray.  Amen

Feb. 7 Under Construction

Exodus 26:1-27:21;  Matthew 25:1-30;  Psalm 31:1-8;  Proverbs 8:1-11

It was God’s idea from the start–the idea of a moveable, transportable “house” for Himself–a place where His Glory would reside–where the Israelites could go to be nearer to Him.

Up to this point God’s presence manifested itself as a ring of fire encircling a mountain top with thunder and quaking.  Only Moses could be up there with God-high above the plain and the people below.

It was God’s idea to come down to where the people were.  To make certain they would know He was a God to be feared and revered He commanded that a beautiful and ornate tabernacle to be constructed.

Remember the plunder from the Egyptians–all of the gold jewelry, precious stones, rich fabrics and linens, and other goods that the Israelites carried out of Egypt?

God had plans for this plunder!

Moses was given the blueprint while face to face with the Master Architect on the mountain.  Inspired craftsmen would sculpt, weave, embroider, hammer every detailed article for God’s dwelling.

Reminds me a bit of Christmas–not the glitter or glamor–but that God came down to the plain. He left the glories of Heaven to come us as a baby boy–someone like you and me that we could gaze upon without fear.

Immanuel–God with us!

Lord God, we thank you for making it possible for us to be near you without fear.  Just as the Tabernacle contained your Glory, Jesus’ body contained Heavenly Glory.

What a miracle!

What Divine planning!

As believers, we acknowledge that we are under construction, made for your purpose.  “For we are the temple of the living God.”  Lord, you tell us, “I will live with them and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”.  Thank you for living in our hearts through faith.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jan. 24 Miracles on Demand?

Genesis 48:1-49:33;  Matthew 15:29-16:12;  Psalm 20:1-9;  Proverbs 4:20-27

 Signs Part I

“Great crowds came to him, (Jesus) bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

 “The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing.  And they praised the God of Israel.” Mt. 15:30-31

Signs Part II

 Jesus had compassion on this large group of people–they were hungry and no markets were nearby to secure food.

 “Hey guys”, he asked his disciples, “how much food do you have on you?”

 “Seven loaves of bread and a couple of small fish,” they replied.

 “Awesome!  Let’s give thanks and pass the food around.”

 Everyone– man, woman and child- filled their stomachs. The leftovers filled seven baskets.

 The people who came to Jesus were needy people–they needed healing, restoration, full stomachs.  They didn’t come to Jesus asking him for signs and miracles.

 And Jesus had compassion on them–he felt their hurts, knew their brokeness, sensed their hunger for something “more”.  He was, after all, a man who also felt hunger, pain, need for sleep and restoration.  But he was also God.   And because He was true God he could do something to help them—and He did.

Signs Part III

 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from Heaven.”  Mt. 16:1

 No brokeness, no inability to speak, walk, hear or see in this crowd. These folks were wise (in their own eyes), self-sufficient, self-justified.  They had full stomachs too.

 They didn’t need Jesus or want anything from him other than some kind of sign from heaven.

 Jesus tells them, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”  Mt. 16:4

 And he walked away–no miracle on demand from him.

 Signs Part IV

 Hmmmmm……Do I seek Jesus because I’m broken with sin and need his compassionate love and healing forgiveness?  or—

Do I want miracles on demand?

Lord God, search my heart.  May my motives for seeking you be pure and blameless.  May they be based on the reality of the cross.  That Jesus died for my sins and that is why I need Him.   Thank You for Your good Word today–that you come to us when we are broken and in great need.  In Your compassion You do not turn us away, but you heal us and restore us.  For this we give you thanks and praise.  Help us to speak this good Word to those who need to hear it.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen

Jan. 16 Hearing Ears

Genesis 32:13-34:31;  Matthew 11:7-30;  Psalm 14:1-7;  Proverbs 3:19-20

He who has ears, let him hear.”  Matthew 11:15

Have you ever wondered whether you would have believed what your eyes saw and your ears heard if you had been in the presence of Jesus during his lifetime?

I have….I’ve wondered if I would have truly believed Jesus when he said, “I am the Son of the Living God.”

Had I lived during Jesus’ time and witnessed his miracles firsthand…

Had I sat at his feet and heard him speak…

Had I heard the crowds yell, “Crucify him!”…

Would I have believed???

Would I have acknowledged that I was a sinner, incapable of keeping God’s Law and that I was helpless to help myself?

Would I have heeded Christ’s words, “Come unto me all who labor (to do good always) and are heavy laden (weighed down with guilt) and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke (of grace, mercy, and forgiveness) upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart (approachable) and you will find rest for your souls (be at peace). For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

I can’t answer those questions.

But–I do know that through the working of God’s Word and the waters of Baptism my sins were washed away and faith was imparted to me–a faith that continues to grow by God’s Grace!  (Colossians 2:12.)

Lord God, thank and praise you for calling me to be yours and for preserving me in the one true faith.

It is glorious to know that I am yoked together with you–that I’m forgiven–that I’m loved by you! 

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen