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Why Me?

Why me?

Most of us have probably said this, at least in our heads, if not aloud. For some of us, this phrase may be well-used! Life rarely plays out the way we want it to and, at personal crisis moments, the words why me? find their way across our lips, minds, and hearts. Consider the following story.

Having just escaped an angry mob on the temple grounds, Jesus, and those following him, walked by a beggar who had been born blind. One of his followers asked what everyone else was thinking, “Master, was it this man’s sin or the sin of his parents that caused God to judge him with blindness?” Jesus’ response stopped them in their tracks. “Neither,” he said, “This man is blind so that God might be glorified in him, not because God is judging him.”

Jesus spit on the ground, mixed it with some dirt, and put the mixture on the man’s eyes. “Go and wash this off in the Siloam pool,” Jesus told the man. He did so, and went home being able to see for the first time.

Why did Jesus’ followers think that the man’s blindness was a result of sin? The understanding of many Old Testament passages promising God’s blessing for those who pleased him and judgment for those who sinned against him was that people who suffered were being punished by God. Jesus reset their thinking by bringing glory to God in healing the man.

We still tend to think this way today. We believe that if we are doing our best to obey God, he will bless us, protect us, and shield us from suffering. When things don’t go our way, those words easily to come up in our minds. Why me?

Maybe Jesus’ needs to reset our thinking as well.

Join us in renewing our minds when it comes to suffering and hardship. We don’t need to minimize the difficulty. Hard things are hard. Suffering hurts. We should be supportive of each other in and through it all. Instead of wallowing in the why me? lament, let’s see these things as a canvas upon which God’s glory may be painted.

Glorify yourself in us, O God. Glorify yourself in us!

Love Will Change the World

It almost seems too simple, doesn’t it?

The Beatles said it back in 1967 on BBC’s first global satellite broadcast: “All you need is love.”

In short, the message of the song is that anything can be accomplished if we just decide to love one another. This was not an original thought by John, Paul, and the lads from Liverpool. Jesus gave his followers a new command over two millennia ago, something that he wanted to define them: To be the outward witness of an inward commitment. “Love each other as I have loved you,” because if you “love one another, the world will know that you are following me.” (John 13:34-35 and 15:12)

Easy to say. Hard to live out.

It’s difficult enough to love other believers, especially if they hold different doctrinal beliefs or (even worse!) different political or ethical positions. Consider how fractured the body of Christ is over such things. What if we took even deeper steps of obedience?

How would the world change if we decided to follow instruction like “love those who hate you” or “bless those who curse you” (Matt 5:44)?

One thing that would happen is that you would be misunderstood. In a selfish world, those who act selflessly stand out and are often attacked.

Other possible results of loving others like Jesus loved us would be ridicule, persecution, and even death. Those kinds of things mark many of the lives who have tried to live this way, including Jesus himself.

The “dark” hates the “light” because the light reveals and dispels the darkness.

Why would we do this? What would push us to treat ourselves, our comfort, our futures – even our very existence – with such abandon?

Obedience.

Are you serious about changing the world? How is God asking you to love someone else today? Will you act on it?

Armed with a Peashooter

Our spiritual enemy has an impressive arsenal of weaponry at his disposal to use against us and yet, way too often, we choose a peashooter with which to enter the battle. For some reason we convince ourselves that our natural resources will win the day against supernatural forces. Though that may make a best-selling movie script, it is not, in fact, reality.

The reality is that we are hopelessly lost in this warfare without relying on God’s armor and arsenal. The apostle Paul wrote Ephesians 6 to tell us what is really going on around us.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Our situation looks pretty grim, but read on.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation…”

God has given us a great defense in his truth, his righteousness, his gospel, his faith, and his salvation, but that’s not all. We can go on the offensive with weapons that the enemy knows will defeat him.

“…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all (of) the Lord’s people.”

The “word of God,” both written (the Bible) and living (Jesus), will bring us to God’s victory.

How do we wield it?

Prayer.

Prayer seems like such a simple thing and yet, in the end, it is the most powerful thing. Prayer brings to bear the power of God. As in most things spiritual, reality is upside down. What we perceive as weak is actually strong. What appears to be loss is gain. Satan’s greatest victory, in crucifying the Christ, is his ultimate defeat. Praise be to God!

Please join us in a renewed commitment to do battle in prayer, making use of our greatest spiritual resource!

I Am Willing

There was little reason to hope. He had heard rumors of this Jesus who could heal the sick ,but what were his chances? Little to none. He was a leper, an outcast, banned from being near anyone. Certainly Jesus was always surrounded by people needing him… wanting him. How would he get close enough?

News came into the area that Jesus was close by. Some fishermen who let him use their boat to speak from had then pulled in a record number of fish. Now was his chance. He would try to see Jesus. What did he have to lose?

He found a place close enough to the road, but still out of sight, from which to make his desperate approach. As Jesus walked by, he made his move, pushing through the crowd and causing a huge commotion, to fall before this healer.

Jesus stopped and looked at him. Words tumbled out. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus knelt and touched him. “I am willing,” he said smiling, “Be clean.” Immediately the leprosy was gone!

This leper represents each of us. Our need is beyond meeting. Our hopelessness is clear. His willingness is our redemption and salvation. He is our healing.

“I am willing. Be clean”

What can we possibly do in response to such an action of love, forgiveness, grace, and hope?

Isaiah gives us a model to follow. As he records it in Isaiah 6, the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord. He was doomed, because to see God was to die, but God had mercy and cleansed him. Then Isaiah heard God ask, “Who will go for us? Whom shall we send?”

Isaiah’s response? “Here am I, send me!” To put that in the context of the leper’s story, he basically said, “I am willing. I’ll go.”

Whatever God is asking of you today, will you join us in this simple (but often very costly) response?

I am willing.

Missing the Miracle

“The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.”

This is Nehemiah 3:5. Nehemiah 3 is one of the passages of scripture that most of us let pass by because it just lists who worked on what section of the wall of Jerusalem during the rebuilding organized by Nehemiah. There is something for us kingdom workers, though, that starts with this verse.

Though the men of Tekoa repaired their part… and even repaired an additional section of the wall, going above and beyond the call to work… their nobles did not. We don’t know why they chose to sit out, but we could all make guesses. Their reasoning doesn’t really matter. What matters is what we read a few chapters later in Nehemiah 6:15-16.

“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”

52 days! That would be a tremendous feat if some construction company were involved. In fact, it would be impossible for a construction company to complete a wall of that size in 52 days! The people who actually completed this task were priests and goldsmiths and just other regular people. One dad even had his daughters out there.

This was a clear “God thing,” and those nobles who took themselves out of the game missed out on being part of it.

Don’t miss out on the miracles that God has lined up for you. Engage! Be part of what God is doing here and around the world. If you can, be like the people of Tekoa and take on a double portion!

We’ll be right beside you!