"...for His anger lasts only a moment...but His favor lasts a lifetime... weeping may remain for a night...but rejoicing comes in the morning..." (Psalm 30:5)
"...and they didn't do as we had expected, but they gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us in keeping with God's will..." (2 Corinthians 8:5)
"...when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd, and touched His cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering..." (Mark 5:27-29)
Grace and peace to you! As the sun shines brightly overhead this morning, may the Son of God shine profoundly deep inside each and every heart. What a privilege to share the thoughtful wisdom and the uplifting message of the Holy Bible on this great day!
May the Lord Jesus Christ dwell richly in you as you begin the day! The Scriptures this morning are truly remarkable. I'd like to take the time to share a few insights in passing as we gravitate toward the "heart of the matter" in the Lord's teaching for us today. The historical background of the Old Testament passage has been a huge surprise to many. The passage includes the following phrases:
These words definitely affirm the Prophet Jeremiah's trust in the Lord God of Israel. The surprise lies in the fact that Jeremiah makes this affirmation during the total destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Prophet is present. He sees Solomon's temple destroyed, the temple priests being slaughtered on the altar, children being eaten by their parents because of terrible starvation. It was a horrible experience. It was the most disastrous event in the history of God's relationship with Israel, with the exception of the death of Christ on the cross.
Two verses from the New Testament helped me to make that amplification of my faith life... "...and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose..." (Romans 8:28)
"...Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice...let your gentleness be evident to all...the Lord is near...Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God...and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 4:4-7)
Before that, I praised God for the things that pleased me and made me feel happy, affirmed, and satisfied. On the other hand, when I was displeased, disappointed, and left out in the cold, I would mumble under my breath and curse my situation. I would feel abandoned by God...and of course...deny it. After all, why would God ever allow bad things to happen, especially to me. In my own way, I would literally chew God out, and question His love for me. After all, why do bad things happen to good people! I learned through the affirmation of the Prophet Jeremiah to praise God, not only in the "feel good" moments, but also, when I thought I was at the end of my rope...when I would normally "take the lower road" like everybody else, without a substantial faith principle, to speak to my situation.
When things are seemingly good and also pleasant I've learned to praise and thank the Lord. When things are seemingly bad, foreboding, and unpleasant, I still praise and thank the Lord. The reason for this is...I can't often see the larger picture involved.
As a person of faith, I trust that the Lord allows what happens as part of His perfect plan for my life and those around me, indeed, those that I pray for. I have learned that there is no failure with God. His wisdom is more than remarkable. In accord with this understanding of genuine faith, not mere religion, mind you, I'm often reminded by Psalm 30:5b, that: "...weeping may remain for a night... but rejoicing cometh in the morning..." Without a firm, tested faith life --- that is trying out this concept of what it means to live spiritually while participating fully in the reality of our daily lives --- we ride the "roller-coaster" of life emotionally that so many millions do, who, reject faith, living ignorantly in self-imposed darkness, or being confused about the difference between the trappings of religion, and then, genuine faith.
We note something in passing... Carrying this spiritual notion a bit further, the Apostle Paul expresses surprise regarding the Macedonian Christians who didn't do what he had expected (that is, falling short of what would be his way), but rather, gave themselves to place the Lord first in their lives and then to serve Paul and those who accompanied him. What an important consideration for those of us who follow Christ to place Jesus first, above all.
For several of us this would be a frightening challenge...to surprise our sisters and brothers of faith by our priority of pleasing Christ before all else. Imagine astounding our neighbors by our successful attempts to serve them, beyond the neighborly thing to do - sharing with others the story of our faith journey to arrive at a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Could we do that without sounding like a religious fanatic or like somebody who was mentally unbalanced? A truly frightening thing to consider - inviting our neighbors and friends to come to church with us...(God forbid!!!)
Is it possible in 2021 that we could develop a knack for doing this - keeping our church building and property in such great condition that all who pass by are greatly impressed by this expression of our respect for the Lord...(this is not a "dig" upon any particular congregation or property) - giving a tenth of our income to our local church and working as John Wesley used to do with each passing year to increase the percentage...(this is the real solid test to any person moving from "nominal participation" to the faith principle of the Scriptures).
I hear the question being asked "How can we grow our church fellowship?" The answer from one of the greatest church stewardship leaders was...invite the people you think would be great, effective members of your church to supper at your home... [...such frightening thoughts...] Go ahead, church people...surprise your church leaders...!!!
I can understand the pitfall of folks who deeply desire personal healing, and then, when they think they are trusting God, they become disappointed. When healing doesn't come, they go on their way.
I prefer those who accept their circumstances and proceed to know that God is good and, if He so chooses, they will recover from infirmity. If they must go the route of suffering, and its eventuality, they do so willingly. The story of suffering and pain is still the ultimate mystery for me after all these years of pastoral service.
Nonetheless, I am totally moved by the healing of this woman. I'm amazed at her conviction that Jesus would heal her, and then considering the masses around Jesus, all she'd need to do is to touch His garment to be healed. As mentioned before, I am captivated by the narrative. There's not a bone in my body that doesn't believe that this encounter took place.
I get a powerful feeling from reading this passage that encourages me in my walk and opens my mind and heart to accept the healing power of Jesus to heal that part of each of us that needs wholeness. Jesus' comment, when she does so, haunts me...with all the thousands crowding around Him...He asks... "Who touched me?" The text relates in regard to this awareness: "...at once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him..." What a statement by Mark... "Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering..." I love that sentence.
It's so good to be uplifted by the power of the Word. May Jesus heal each one of us this day and those following. Great is Thy faithfulness! May the Lord bless each of us to know that there is a healing power in the Lord that goes beyond all reason and understanding. Trust in Him. He is worthy.