Posts tagged "Week 4"
By Steve Scurich
AND JESUS SAID, “ALL RIGHT, RECEIVE YOUR SIGHT! YOUR FAITH HAS HEALED YOU.” [LUKE 18:42]
Grace is God’s gift to us, but we receive it through faith. We need His grace to be right with Him. He shows it to us every morning; blessing us with another day and we either receive it, or reject it. It is so important to realize that we need to respond to Christ by our faith that He can do anything – even forgive all of our sins. In a previous devotional, I wrote, “I can give you a dollar bill from my pocket, but it is not yours until you receive it.” Hebrews 11 (“The Hall of Faith”) is a chapter I think about many times throughout my day. When challenges come into my life, or I wonder what I can possibly accomplish in this world, these amazing stories of faith inspire me. What is so incredible is that these accomplishments were done by ordinary people, with faults, just like you and me.
I stumble… a lot. I choose the path of safety over faith in Him, many times. I know that, many times, sharing God’s grace can be as simple as walking across the room to gain another soul into His kingdom, but I don’t. I live in a “safe community,” one where I can feel secure and not have to rely on others. I worry way more than I should. This all shows a lack of faith that He will provide me with the strength to tell others about Him, the safety of being held by His loving hands, and His word, which says today’s troubles are enough for today. I’m always thinking about the future and I tend to think that I have control of it. The truth is, I am fragile and I need to remember that this earthly life can be taken easily, but God’s plan for me is always good. Our small group recently worked through the book, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. One of the first chapters discusses how fragile life is. Think about it… Christ can return at any second, we put ourselves at risk of death whenever we step into a car, or even outside of the house. We act as if today is ordinary, but what is ordinary about floating around in space on a giant, spinning ball, tilted at just the right angle to the sun in order to sustain life? The slightest move in the wrong direction and we are standing in front of God. Alone, with our acceptance or rejection of His gift. We need to receive His grace through faith. And the sooner, the better!
I know this may seem morbid, or depressing but it is quite the opposite. As soon as we get it, and respond to faith the way God intends, we will be healed of all sin. We will see, we will hear, and we will hope for eternal life with our amazing, living God! Our sins are forgiven past, present, and future through His grace and He will provide us with everything we need. I don’t know about you, but I am going to continue to stumble along this life’s journey, constantly moving toward Christ and remaining faithful to the only One that has conquered death. Thank you Jesus!!!
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Jesus shows us many times in the New Testament what can happen when we have faith – and all are amazing accounts. How does your faith in God stack up to those ordinary people, who gladly gave up everything to follow Him and accomplish unbelievable achievements?
Jesus, please make me grow closer to you through faith and prayer. Help me to gain an intimate relationship with you, so my faith is strengthened and I have the wisdom to do your will here without worry. I need to have you at the front of my mind in everything I do, so I can accomplish all things through You. Amen.
By Ray Steinkraus
HE CALLED OUT, “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!” [LUKE 18:38]
When I was little, when I was in need of help for my problems, it was easy to call out to Mom or Dad to fix or help with whatever it might have been. As I grew older, I also asked for help from a teacher or friend (although sometimes reluctantly out of fear of being considered dumb or weak). When I became a parent, the role was reversed with my child now asking for help. Most times I could help him through my own experience or calling on others for help. However, I soon found out I did not have all the answers or the ability to help my son and really not even to help myself.
Everyone, I learned, comes to a place that they run out of answers and others to help. I also learned, and as this scripture show us, in the end there is only one person that can be counted on whether you are a beggar or a rich man. That is Jesus.
The story of the blind beggar receiving his sight also reminds us that we are spiritually blind and need the help of Jesus to give us our sight through His mercy. All we have to do is call out to Him.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
What keeps us from calling out for mercy from Jesus?
Lord Jesus, open my eyes; help me to realize that you are always there for me. Give me the strength to trust your character and experience your mercy.
By Craig Klann
AS JESUS APPROACHED JERICHO, A BLIND MAN WAS SITTING BY THE ROADSIDE BEGGING. [LUKE 18:35]
As Jesus entered into the city of Jericho there was a man with a tremendous need begging for help along side the road. The affliction of this man was his eyes. He could not see. The impact of his affliction was severe. He was unable to work, unable to meet his own needs and so he sat on the side of the road begging for someone to help him. Whether it is your sight or some other affliction, all of us have found ourselves with a problem too great to overcome. In one way or another, we are all like the blind man Jesus approaches on the road to Jericho. We all have wounds.
The reason, cause, or nature of our wound is not as important as what we do with our wound. Some wounds are temporary and heal, others are persistent, and still others get worse over time. For some people their condition brings them despair; whereas for others, their condition brings enlightenment and understanding. What we consider a physical flaw, God may use as an instrument of influence, a source of joy, a way to discover who we are.
For this man, the answer he has been looking for approaches him on a road. At some point in each of our lives Jesus will approach us in a moment of desperate need. Will we recognize Him? Will we see the opportunity before us? Will we ask Him for help believing He has the answers? Too many times I am focused on the wound and miss the opportunities for growth. I try to find a cure, work on refining my begging, and strive to survive day to day.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
As I struggle to live daily, I must redirect my focus onto Jesus. When He comes to help, am I living my life in such a way that I will recognize Him?
Lord, thank you for the many blessings in my life. Give me eyes to see you and the faith to trust you with my deepest wounds. I pray that my life may be used to show others who you are that they may place their trust in you.
By Dennis Mattingly
THEN JESUS SAID TO HIM, “GET UP! PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK.” [JOHN 5:8]
We are all driven to some degree by the daily demands of our jobs, our families and the pressures to provide the basics of life in a fast pace society. Many of us have developed a routine that allows us to accomplish these expectations with a feeling of satisfaction. However, these tasks can easily distract us from pursuing the goals that God has for us. God desires for us to seek after the lifestyle and relationship that He has laid out for us in the Bible.
The truth is that we are easily distracted people who have a tendency to settle for far less than God offers. Are you living your life attending to the daily chores and neglecting God? He has chosen you to be His child and he wants to be the master of all that you do. He is always there for you. All that He requires is that you accept Him and He will give you the strength to follow His directions.
FOR GOD IS WORKING IN YOU, GIVING YOU THE DESIRE AND THE POWER TO DO WHAT PLEASES HIM. [PHILIPPIANS 2:13]
Like the invalid in John 5, many of us have settled for a life far short of what God intends. We are quick to make excuses for our lack of commitment often blaming our distance from God on busyness and an abundance of responsibility. In this story, Christ singled out the invalid and commanded him to “get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The invalid did as he was commanded and was healed. In the same manner, Christ has singled us out. He was crucified, died and was buried, so that our sins would be forgiven. We need only to follow His command in order to be cured. Accept and believe and we will be saved.
IF YOU CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH THAT JESUS IS LORD AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. [ROMANS 10:9]
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
As we place our faith in Jesus He promises to send His helper, the Holy Spirit, to come along side of us in our earthly journey. Are you ready to accept Jesus and follow the Holy Spirit’s voice in your life?
Dear God, I do accept and believe in your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending Him to pay the price for my sins that I may live a life close to you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me the strength to overcome earthly temptations. By your Spirit, give me the strength to live life as you have designed for me.
By Steve Scurich
“I CAN’T, SIR,” THE SICK MAN SAID, “FOR I HAVE NO ONE TO PUT ME INTO THE POOL WHEN THE WATER BUBBLES UP. SOMEONE ELSE ALWAYS GETS THERE AHEAD OF ME.” [JOHN 5:7]
Can you think of a time in your life when you felt like a victim? I know I can. I am immediately taken back to a place and time in my life when I was totally lost and frustrated. This was a time when I knew that I needed God more than ever, but instead of focusing on Jesus I focused on my own efforts. The reality is that I was not getting anywhere on my own and finally surrendered my life to Jesus. Have you ever done that? Work harder and try harder hoping we will eventually earn what we desperately crave. The truth is, this direction only makes us focus more on ourselves and puts us farther away from God’s will in our lives. When you feel like the victim, say to yourself, “Now is the time for me to humbly ask for God’s guidance.”
A few years ago, I came home to find my life beginning to crumble. My marriage was in ruins, I was barely making it financially, I lost my job due to the economy, and I had very little in the way of a relationship with God. 30 days of looking for work turned into 90 days and then 4, 5, 6 months. Throughout this struggle I felt like a victim and I needed help. Why was I not getting the final interview, or offer? Before this I had lived the good life (or so it seemed). I had a good paying job, nice things, about to start a family, and top of my sales region. What was missing? Looking back today it is clear that I was missing God’s foundation in my life. I had built a home as strong as can be, but I forgot to pour the foundation! I literally got down on my knees in tears and prayed for God to help me hand the reigns over to Him. Help me give up my life, and my possessions. I prayed for patience to ease my troubled mind in knowing that His goodness would shine, even in the darkest hours.
In the midst of this struggle God asked me to stop picking and choosing how I wanted to follow Him. Shortly after I got baptized and became serious about eternal life. I was done with the lack of satisfaction I was getting from earthly things. I prayed more, I read scripture, I started listening to Christian music instead of CNN News, I said “No!” to my desires if I felt they conflicted with God’s purpose for my life, and I actually started giving more to the church despite not having a job. I had to prove I trusted God with everything I had.
So how does this devotional end? Well, He blessed me with an amazing job that has provided me with colleagues that appreciate my walk with Christ. I was able to sell my house and move into a smaller place that I can not only afford, but also have the funds to provide for others. My debts are cleared and I married the most amazing, God honoring woman of my dreams. We lead a small group of friends that I am thankful for everyday, and I am totally in love with Jesus! In just a couple years, God was able to turn the lifetime mess I made, the house without a foundation, into an incredible inheritance I will receive from God. C.S. Lewis puts it best when he says, “Aim at heaven and you’ll have the earth thrown in; aim at the earth and you’ll have neither.”
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
When you feel like the victim, when the thorns of life are choking you, how do you give it all up and let God take control?
Father, you made me. You knew me before I was born and you know exactly what I am going through and feeling right now. My faith in you feels shaken and I am overcome by the struggles of this world. Help me to set my sites on eternal life with you and look beyond these problems, by handing over my concerns to you. I want to be your obedient servant, for I know you have plans for me to prosper and I’m so thankful you sent your only son, Jesus Christ to teach me how to live here. Amen.
By Rich Berger
WHEN JESUS SAW HIM LYING THERE AND LEARNED THAT HE HAD BEEN IN THIS CONDITION FOR A LONG TIME, HE ASKED HIM, “DO YOU WANT TO GET WELL?” [JOHN 5:6]
Many times in my life, I’ve found myself “wounded”, unable to perform the everyday activities that were once so easy and routine. The sources of my wounds are many: being in a horrific accident with a drunk driver, an employer who unfairly fired me, the loss of my 20 year old son, a wife who no longer wanted to continue our marriage. I can confidently say that all people experience events in their lives which cause them numbing pain, rejection and feelings of great despair. Quite often these experiences leave deep physical, emotional and psychological wounds.
Although the experiences themselves are painful, it is what we do AFTER we are wounded that has a profound impact on us. Just like the man who was an invalid for thirty-eight years, many of us tend to accept what happens and become invalid, unable to function normally. It’s as though once we are wounded, we focus on the pain and the loss to the point where we begin to believe that we cannot function normally again. We simply give up trying.
Jesus is asking this man the same thing he asks us all. “Do you want to get well?”
At the point where we begin to feel our wounds are too great that life will never be normal again, that is the exact time Jesus is reaching out His hand to us and asking, “Do you want to get well?” At that moment, our attention should be on the healing powers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus heals our wounds. His love for us is greater than any wound we have. Believe that Jesus will heal us, make us strong again and lift us up on the wings of eagles to soar to the highest of joy and peace.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Why do I focus on my wounds for so long and forget that our Lord Jesus Christ is with me reaching out His hand to help heal me?
Jesus, thank you for always being with me, heal my wounds and make me whole again.