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Acting like an animal

Mark 4:37-41 – “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

We had a missionary come and speak to us last night. He is heading to the Solomon Islands, hopefully, in August. He brought a message in regards to obeying to God’s voice. 

Read this Scripture one more time. Pay close attention to the end. 

The message last night reminded us that all of creation obeys God’s voice. Why can’t we?

Just think for a minute, the wind ceased when Jesus said to do so. The waves ceased when Jesus said to do so. Not a gentle, progressive calming – they ceased or stopped. 

The speaker also reminded us of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. How did it know to do that? And what about the animals getting on the ark – how did they know where to go and what to do? They all heard God’s voice and obeyed. They didn’t question it. They didn’t fight against Him. God said move; they moved.

So we have all these examples in the Bible of things that have no soul and no upper level thinking capabilities- creatures and things we consider inferior- obeying God. And then in walks a human and boom! All sorts of questions and fussing and whining about a simple command. 

Just think for a moment what God is asking us to do on a most basic level – read and study His word, go to a local New Testament church and worship Him, talk to those around you about Him and His work in your life, obey Him. These are not difficult commands, yet we act like a two year old when asked to do any of them. Why is it so difficult to obey His voice? 

So, my challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to obey His voice, period. Obey His voice in the simple things. Trust me, if the animals can do it, so can you. 

Impossible

Note: This verse that I have chosen for today is first and foremost about salvation. There is no way that we can do anything to earn our salvation. Salvation is truly impossible for a person to accomplish. Jesus, however, graciously provided THE way for us to accept His salvation freely. But in addition to this very important meaning, one can also apply a more general scope. 

Mark 10:27 – “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Yesterday, as I was spending some of my time driving, I heard this on the radio – “Impossible is really ‘I’m possible'”. I love that! So many times we hear “impossible”. We think that there is no way that we could do something. We allow Satan to convince us that we are not good enough. But God does not see it that way. He sees it as possible. Where others see a deficit, He sees an opportunity. 

Impossible is not a word in our Savior’s vocabulary. He laughs at impossible. Think about it, He created all that we see from nothing. If that isn’t overcoming impossible, I don’t know what is!

So why do we let impossible into our life? Why do we give it any authority at all? 

Pride. Pride that we can do it ourself. We think that by our own power and wisdom and ability that we can accomplish anything. We want to be able to tell others that we did this or that or that we got to go here or there. Pride is an ugly beast that creeps into our life seemingly uninvited and takes up residency in our heart and is very difficult to get to leave. It usually leaves only after it has been knocked off its pedestal. And sometimes that’s exactly what it takes. You have to be knocked in the mud before you realize that maybe, just maybe you need some help with this thing called life. 

But when we approach things in the light of God’s love, we realize right off the bat that there is no way that we can do anything at all without the help of God. We know that He makes all things possible. He reminds us that us+Him=possible. You see how closely together that I wrote that equation. I did that for a reason. There cannot be any room for pride when you choose to live this equation. Keeping pride out reminds us that the only thing between us and possible is God holding it all together. 

So today as you face your many challenges and problems, let me encourage you to choose possible. Choose to live out that equation and stay so close to God that pride has no room to worm its way into things. 

The Alabaster Box

Mark 14:3 – “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.”

Luke 7:37,38 – “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

John 12:2,3 – “There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”

Ok, now let me explain why I have printed one account in three different places. 1. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1b) 2. I wanted you to see who the woman was. 3. I wanted you to see how much her Savior meant to her. 

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends while here on earth. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. He cared so much for these three. And the feelings were reciprocated. They thought a lot of Jesus as well. So it wasn’t unusual for them to have the desire to do something special for Jesus after Lazarus’s ressurection. They prepared a meal. It was at someone else’s home, but nonetheless, they hosted it. 

And then Mary comes in with her alabaster box. Now, I want to share something with you about that box. The ointment inside that box cost about a year’s worth of wages. Think about that for a minute – would you take one year of your salary and buy something? This was probably part of her dowry or something like a life’s savings item. This was costly and this was precious to Mary. Yet, here we see her opening the box and pouring its contents on her Savior and then washing His feet with her tears and her hair – a very tender and precious moment to say the least. 

The point I want to make here is that Mary gave up something very precious to her. She surrendered something very close to her for the sake of her Savior. Jesus did not ask her to do this. Jesus did not require her to do this. Mary did this because she loved Jesus. She wanted to show her gratitude and appreciation for all that He had done for her and all He would do for her. 

We all have things in our life that are precious to us – our family, our home, our dreams, our jobs, our church –  I could go on forever. But what is Jesus laying upon your heart to turn over to Him? What is in your life that you consider more precious than Him? Now, don’t be fooled, we all have things that we set up before Christ.  We shouldn’t, but we do. Jesus isn’t going to require you to give up this thing. He isn’t going to scold or guilt you into surrendering it. But He does ask that you put Him first in all you do, in all you think and in all you care for.

Sometimes  surrendering this alabaster box is the hardest thing you will ever do. It is saying that you will give the box to Him to do with it what He chooses. You give up control of the box. This box that you have worked so hard for. This box that you have sacrificed so much for. This is the box He wants you to entrust to Him. This is the action that shows that you truly trust Him to take care of it all. 

So, friend, what’s in your box? 

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!

Blind Bart

Today, we are going to do things a bit different.

Look at Mark 10:46-52.

My husband did a lesson on blind Bartimaeus last night. I’m sure he won’t mind me revisiting it today.

Let’s set this up. Jesus is leaving Jericho. Bartimaeus (we are going to to call him Bart) is sitting by the edge of the road begging. Bart was blind. Back in those days, they didn’t have programs to teach him a trade or supply him with what he needed to be independent. Bart couldn’t hold a job. So, he supported himself by begging. He had heard many people traveling down this road talking about Jesus and all that He was doing in their area. The people may have even told Bart about Jesus. However Bart heard about Him, Bart believed. Bart believed without seeing or reading about Jesus. Bart believed Jesus to be the Son of God, the Messiah.

So as Jesus was leaving Jericho, He headed toward Bart. Bart had no idea when he woke up that morning that Jesus would be heading his way. He had no idea that this day would change his life forever. When Bart heard that Jesus was coming, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Vs. 47) People tried to get him to quiet down. Jesus was a busy man. Did Bart listen? Nope. He yelled louder. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (vs. 48) And what did Jesus do? He stopped (vs. 49). Jesus stopped where He was going and that made everyone else stop. Jesus wanted to hear Bart. Think about that for a moment. When we cry out to the Creator of the universe, He stops. He wants to hear us. He wants to attend to us and us alone. What we say, what we feel matters to Him.

When Jesus called out for Bart, Bart didn’t take his time in getting up. “Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.” (Vs. 50) When Jesus calls your name, do you jump? I know sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Sad, but true. We should jump and run when Jesus calls us out. But that would require listening, would it not?

“‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. ‘Rabbi, I want to see.'” (Vs. 51) Jesus asked and Bart answered. Bart spoke from his heart. And Jesus knew this. Jesus didn’t ask “how can I help you?” or “do you need something?”. No, Jesus asked directly what Bart wanted Him to do for him. Crazy thing is, Jesus already knew. But He wanted to hear it from Bart’s lips. He wanted to hear Bart’s heart.

“‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Vs. 52) Jesus’s healing didn’t take some time. It didn’t falter along. It was immediate. And Jesus pointed out what had healed Bart, his faith. He believed before he had ever seen Jesus or experienced Him. He had never read the Bible. He had probably only heard of the miracles that Jesus did and the discussions of who He is.

What can we learn from this lesson? Faith, being prepared and purposeful asking. Faith is what healed Bart. Faith is what made all the other things we learned possible. Bart was ready to follow Jesus and he was ready to listen to Jesus. Bart was also to the point when he talked to Jesus. He didn’t beat around the bush in asking for his sight. He said it straight out. Jesus knew his heart, but He wanted Bart to express it. He knows our heart today, but He wants you to tell Him about it. That is how a relationship is built.

So this week princess, learn from blind Bart. Be more faithful. Be ready to go. Be purposeful – don’t beat around the bush. Jesus knows your heart. He knows what you need. He knows what you want. He just wants to have a relationship with you where you will talk to Him about it all.

I just wanna be a sheep

Mark 8:34 – “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'”

“Follow me” is our subject for today.

Have you ever watched sheep? I haven’t except for on television. But I have heard lots of sermons preached on sheep. Not the brightest bulbs in the box, I’m told.

Let’s look at another verse today as well – John 10:2-5 – “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Sheep. Jesus was known for teaching the people in a way that they could understand. They understood sheep. Jesus was telling the people that they should follow Him like sheep. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. We should know the voice of Jesus whispering on our hearts, leading us to greener pastures.

Following Christ means listening for Him to guide you. More than likely, you won’t hear Him with your ears, but you will hear Him in your heart. And that means you have to listen. That can be tough with l the “stuff” going on around you. Believe me, I know.

We hear all kinds of voices attempting to lead us. But these verses say that if we hear any other voice besides the one of our Shepherd, we should run! Run like the wind! No good can come from following any other voice save that one of Jesus.

Today, princess, be a sheep. A beautiful, well combed and sparkling sheep. Maybe even a bow around your neck would be prudent. Whatever your attire, listen for Him. And when He speaks, follow Him. He will never lead you astray.

Take up your cross

Mark 8:34 – “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'”

Today we are going to look at what “take up his cross” means to us today.

Lots of people have a cross necklace. I have one. But this phrase in Mark does not imply that putting on your necklace every morning is “taking up your cross.”

No, it is way more than that. Oh, the necklace is a great reminder, but I think when we see something often enough that sometimes it loses it’s meaning.

“Take up your cross” explains complete dedication. When Jesus committed Himself to the cross, He was in it until the bitter end. The cross symbolized finality. There was no getting out of it.

This is the kind of dedication Jesus desires of us. The kind where we are in it and in it deep. Completely and wholly given to Him.

How does that work in our modern world? How do we maintain complete dedication to our Lord and Savior while doing what we need to do here? Very carefully princess, very carefully.

Don’t get me wrong. I fail at this daily. I need this just as much as you do. I am not at the level of commitment that I need to be. I have a hard time juggling as well. But there is my problem – “I”. Why do I always think that “I” have to do it? Why can’t I just sit back and let God tell me what to do? Stubborn sinner that I am wants to do it all and do it all perfectly.

God wants my heart and my devotion. He wants me to do my very best, to lend a hand to others, to share myself with others, to show Him to others. He wants me to see every situation I come upon as an opportunity to share His love. That’s what total devotion means. That’s what He wants.