Do You Love God’s Word?
‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.’ Matthew 24:35 NIV
One of the first books to come off the printing press when it was invented was the Bible. And it’s still the world’s best-selling book. An anonymous author has written: ‘It contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the fate of sinners, and the happiness of believers. It is a light to direct you, food to nourish you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s road map, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s weapon, and the player’s game plan. It’s a mine of incredible wealth, and a river of genuine joy. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Christ is its grand subject, your good its design, and the glory of God its end. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be spiritually healthy. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. Let it fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your steps. It is given to you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered for ever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and judge those who trifle with its sacred contents.’ The Bible is ‘The Word of our God [which] stands forever…’ (1 Peter 1:25 NIV) Most of us respect the Bible; the trouble is we don’t read it daily and put it into practice. After hearing a discussion on various translations of the Bible, one man said: ‘I prefer my mother’s translation, because she translated it into everyday life.’ Are you doing that?
Don’t Be a Fool
‘The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God…”‘ Psalm 14:1 NKJV
The atheistic fool. It’s said, ‘An atheist can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.’ Sometimes pride is at the core of atheism. Without God, you become your own god, which means there’s no higher power than yourself! But the God of the Bible proves His existence in three ways: (1) Creation. Many people are in prison today who weren’t caught at the scene of the crime, and no one actually witnessed the crime. What proved they did it? Fingerprints! DNA! Creation carries God’s fingerprints and DNA. ‘Look up into the Heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name…’ (Isaiah 40:26 NLT) (2) Calvary. In creation you see God’s power, at the cross you see His love for you. In creation you see His hand, at the cross you see His heart. (3) Conscience. ‘Gentiles…even without having heard it…demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.’ (Romans 2:14-15 NLT) Conscience is like having the Ten Commandments in your soul; no one was born without one. Voltaire, the French atheist, said, ‘It took twelve fishermen to build Christianity. I will show the world how one Frenchman can destroy it.’ After Voltaire died, the home in which he had lived became Europe’s most famous Bible distribution centre. Bottom line: Voltaire is dead; our God lives! Atheism is the greatest gamble of all. After all, what if there is a God and you stand before Him one day?
‘…You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…’ Luke 12:20 NIV
The ambitious fool. Jesus told the story of a successful farmer who said, ‘…I will pull down my barns, and build greater…’ (Luke 12:18 NKJV) Evidently he was a good businessman and planner. But then he said: ‘I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’ (Luke 20:19-21 NKJV)
This man had a plan for time, but none for eternity. He thought about himself, but not God. He paid attention to his body, but not his soul. It’s said that the average body has enough phosphorus to make 800,000 match heads, enough sugar to go into 60 cubes, enough salt to cover 20 spoons, and enough iron to make about ten dollars’ worth of nails. The rest is just dust and water. When you pamper, promote and protect the part of you that will only live 70 or 80 years and neglect the part of you that will live on in either Heaven or hell, God says you’re a fool. This man told himself he had ‘many years’ but God said, ‘This night your soul will be required of you.’ Don’t you realise that an accident, a blocked artery, a stray bullet, a plane with engine failure or a drunk driver could take you out in an instant? Wise up! The question is not will you die, but when? And are you ready to stand before God?
‘ …Should Abner have died as fools die?’ 2 Samuel 3:33 NLT
The absolute fool. Abner slew a man called Asahel, whose brother happened to be Joab, King David’s number one general. So Joab was out to take Abner’s life. The tragedy of this story is that Abner was within reach of Hebron, one of the six cities of refuge. But instead of running into that city and enjoying its protection, he allowed the enemy to catch him outside the gates and kill him. ‘They buried Abner in Hebron… Then the king sang this funeral song, “Should Abner have died as fools die?”‘ (2 Samuel 3:32-33 NLT) Abner was the absolute fool. Why? Because unlike the atheistic fool who did not believe in God, or the ambitious fool who had no time for God, he knew what to do-but didn’t do it. There were no rivers to cross, no mountains to climb, and no price to be paid. The gates of Hebron were open; all he had to do was go in and stay there.
Imagine being given a Gospel tract with these words on the cover: ‘What must I do to be lost?’ Then opening it and finding that page is-blank. You don’t have to do anything to be lost! But you must do something to be saved: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…’ (Acts 16:31 NKJV)
When Mary brought the newborn Christ to the temple, an old priest named Simeon held Him in his arms and said that he was ready to die, because he had seen the Saviour of the world. (Luke 2:25-32) In order to die right you must meet Christ, embrace Him, and acknowledge Him as your Lord and Saviour. Why don’t you do it today!
The Word for ‘Worrywarts’
‘Martha…you are worried and upset about many things.’ Luke 10:41 NIV
Worry acts like a thief; it robs us of the joy God wants us to experience each day. Basically, all our worries come down to two things: that we won’t get what we need or that we’ll lose what we’ve got. Martha was a ‘worrywart’ and it showed up when Jesus came to dinner. She worked hard in the kitchen while her sister Mary sat listening to Jesus. In frustration Martha asked, ‘…Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?’ (v40 NIV) Worry makes us forget who’s servant and who’s Lord. Notice three things in this story: (1) Martha was busy serving, but she wasn’t enjoying it. No doubt she wanted to please Jesus; it’s just that she allowed her work for the Lord to become more important to her than her relationship with the Lord. Has that happened to you? (2) Satan didn’t take Martha out of the kitchen; he just stole her purpose for being there. Satan doesn’t turn you against the church; he just makes you focus on yourself. He doesn’t take away your ministry, he just discourages you by saying you’re overworked and not appreciated. (3) God values your attitude more than your actions. ‘Do everything without complaining…’ (Philippians 2:14 NIV) A bad attitude spoils the gift you offer to God. Jesus said, ‘Martha…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen…it…’ (Luke 10:42 NIV) What did Mary choose? Sitting at the feet of Jesus. He always prefers the quiet devotion of a sincere heart to the noisy attitude of a complainer. Think about it.
‘Whoever does not bear his cross…cannot be My disciple.’ Luke 14:27 NKJV
Brenda Goodine says, ‘My friend decided it was time to talk to her bright four-year-old son, Benji, about receiving Christ. “Benji,” she asked quietly, “would you like to have Jesus in your heart?” Benji rolled his blue eyes and answered seriously, “No. I don’t think I want the responsibility.”‘ Now, you may not like Benji’s answer, but you have to admire his honesty. He wasn’t just thinking about the rewards of discipleship, he was thinking about the responsibilities it brings. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection put it this way: ‘Let us think often, that our only business in this life is to please God.’ Imagine asking yourself before each action, word or attitude, ‘Is this pleasing to the Lord?’ How different would your life be? How would your decisions impact the people around you? Jesus said, ‘Whoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.’ Crosses were not made to live on, but to die on. Every morning when you wake up, go into the bathroom, look in the mirror and say, ‘Today, you’ve been called to die to self-indulgence, self-interest, and self-promotion.’ Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, once said, ‘The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.’ And that is the essence of discipleship. Furthermore, Jesus said if you are not willing to do it, you ‘cannot’ be His disciple.
Getting the attention of God
Mark 10:46-52 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
1. SOMETIMES IT MAY FEEL AS IF JESUS IS BEYOND YOUR REACH
Mark 10:46 They came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging.
Here we see the story of blind Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar from the town of Jericho. Due to his disability he was unable to work and had to beg for a living. He, in all probability, had heard about Jesus and the miracles He was doing. It is unusual that we know the name of this man, because of all the people that Jesus healed, very few of them do we know by name. Bartimaeus was one of a very few who are actually named, who were miraculously healed by Jesus. The healing of blind Bartimaeus is also the final healing recorded in the book of Mark. The problem was that by this time Jesus was well known and was always followed by a crowd of people. They may not have had radio, television or the internet, but the message would travel fast and people would surround Jesus. Here we see a typical situation with Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd. How does anyone get access to Jesus under these circumstances, especially someone with the disability of blindness? Sometimes we can feel like this as well. Perhaps we feel that Jesus is too busy and too consumed with the greater good or the affairs of the world, why would He stop for ‘little old me’! Perhaps we wonder how we will get through the crowd ourselves, how will we get close to Him? This story reminds us that regardless of the crowds, HE is willing and waiting to respond to our callings! HE is not beyond your reach. Call out to Him and just as He responded to blind Bartimaeus so you can expect that HE will respond to your callings.
2. HE IS READY TO MEET OUR DEEP-SEATED LONGINGS
Mark 10:47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Perhaps blind Bartimaeus had hoped and longed that he too could meet Jesus. I can only imagine that he had visualized the unlikely possibility that somehow, some way, he could make contact and meet Jesus. Now circumstances had developed with Jesus and the most unlikely thing was happening – Jesus was passing by and He was passing by the very spot where Bartimaeus was. You may think this was a simple co-incidence, but perhaps it was a divine appointment. But, I believe we catch the longing of his heart in the words: ‘When he heard…..’! It came to his attention that it was Jesus passing by. I imagine he could hardly believe what he was hearing. The very person he had hoped to meet was right there, close to him, within his reach. He just lets rip and starts to scream. The story does not tell us that he first asked for confirmation. He just took the window of opportunity and grabbed it with all he had. A window of opportunity is a short time period during which an otherwise unattainable opportunity exists. After the window of opportunity closes, the opportunity ceases to exist. Bartimaeus took advantage of the ‘window of opportunity’ that opened up right in front of him. I believe that many people have got ‘windows of opportunity’ right in front of them right now. If only they would grab them and take advantage of them! A window of opportunity requires some effort. But that effort will be rewarded. Bartimaeus may not have been able to see, but he sure made good use of his hearing. HE is ready to meet your deep-seated longings.
3. DON’T ALLOW ANYTHING TO GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR PURSUIT OF GOD
Mark 10:48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
It is interesting to note that it says MANY rebuked him. When he started calling out and using his window of opportunity, he got opposition. The scripture says that many rebuked him and told him to be quiet. They probably did it in undiplomatic ways. The opposition was in all likelihood ugly. His response to this deluge of hostile opposition is interesting. He shouted even louder. It was only at this point that it got the attention of Jesus. Perhaps he had even thought that Jesus was ignoring him? But he did not give up. Don’t allow anyone or anything to get in your way. Pursue God with all you have got. If the opposition is strong, press on with even greater conviction. Bartimaeus may not have had sight, but he sure had insight. We know this because he called Jesus the ‘Son of David!’ Up until this stage Jesus may have been known as the ‘Son of Joseph’. It is generally accepted that the term ‘Son of David’ was only used after the crucifixion. So this blind beggar knew something that was not a generally known fact. Why he used this term, we do not really know. But it is generally agreed upon that it was a prophetic proclamation. Even in his desperation, God was using him. Somehow, out of his poverty and darkness, he was convinced that Jesus was the Son of David. This man had conviction and determination, and he was rewarded for this.
4. JESUS WILL STOP FOR YOU!
Mark 10:49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
This is for me the most intriguing element of this great story. In the midst of the bustling crowds and the noisy activity and with Bartimaeus shouting louder and louder, JESUS STOPS! Jesus did not overlook his callings, but Jesus stops. Jesus will stop for you too. He is not too busy to stop when you call on Him. That Jesus was willing and prepared to stop all the activity, to stop His plans and agenda to deal with this blind beggar man should be an encouragement to all of us. Jesus does not just stop, but He goes further and He ‘calls him!’ Perhaps there are those today that God is calling. We speak about being ‘CALLED’ into the ministry. When God stops to help us with the issues we are facing, it is always with the greater knowledge that He wants to use our lives for His purposes.
5. GET RID OF EVERY HINDRANCE
Mark 10:50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
The cloak speaks of the things that we have clothed ourselves with. A beggar will usually clothe himself with shame. Here we see Bartimaeus throwing aside his cloak. He did not gently fold it up and place it to one side! He disposed of it! Perhaps you are walking around with some kind of cloak? It could be a blanket of heaviness, it could be a habit or sin, it could be a covering of some sort of shame because of something you have done or something that has been done to you? Throw it off today. The next thing he did was to jump to his feet. He gave up his begging position and got up. Sometimes we resort to something that we were never destined for. Perhaps it is time for you to give up your beggar status and stand tall in what God has prepared for you! He may not have been able to see, but he used what he had (his hearing) and followed the voice of the Master and made it to Jesus. Jesus will stop for you, He will call you and He will change your status as you call and come to Him!
6. WHAT DO YOU WANT HIM TO DO FOR YOU?
Mark 10:51 “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
It seems to be strange that God would ask a blind man what he would want Him to do. Surely it is obvious that he wanted to see. I have often thought about this. I have developed my own idea on this question. I believe that God knows what the root problem is. He knows the story behind the story. Often our requests are a cover-up for something deeper. God knows what is at the heart of our requests. But He wants us to come to the same realization. The question we must ask ourselves is ‘What is the real issue?’ Blind Bartimaeus responds and says: ‘I want to see!’ He did not say I want to have sight. He said he wanted to see. There is a difference between having sight and actually seeing! I have met some people who have perfect sight but they are unable to actually see what is right in front of them. What do YOU want Him to do for you? Have you ever given this serious thought? It is worth thinking about.
7. HE IS READY TO MEET YOUR NEED
Mark 10:51-52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
The response from Jesus is interesting! He says to the blind man ‘GO”! It is often only in the ‘going’ that the miracle happens. Sometimes we want to stay and have everything change, but we must go and then see the change. As a result he was immediately healed. And it is interesting to note where he went. He did not go back to his things or perhaps his beggar’s takings that he had left with his cloak. He did not go to his family or friends. It says he followed Jesus down the road. This shows us that he really did see and what he saw he would not give up. The older translations say that he followed Jesus ‘in the way’! This indicates more than just down the road, but rather he became a follower or a disciple of Jesus. For each one of us, that is our destination! Wherever you may have been, whatever you may have experienced or gone through, the goal is that you and I would become a follower and a disciple of Jesus. When we get the attention of God, we become His disciple. I mentioned earlier that it was unusual in the New Testament to be given the name of someone who has been healed by Jesus. But in this specific case we do have the name and even more we have his father’s name, Timaeus. It is interesting to note what his father’s name means. Timaeus = it comes from ancient Greek and it means ‘HONOUR’! He became the son of honour, and his honour was restored. He moved from a beggar to a disciple of Jesus. What an honour! He will do the same for you, He will restore you!
By: Andrew W Roebert
At Home in God’s Presence
‘Lord, through all the generations You have been our home!…’ Psalm 90:1 NLT
At the end of a hard day it feels good to come home to a place you know-a place where you can kick off your shoes, run around in your bathrobe and not worry about what anybody thinks. And reverently speaking, God’s presence can become equally comfortable to you too. With time, you can learn to go there for strength, for protection, and for guidance. God wants you to be at home in His presence and aware of His nearness at all times. We think of God as a deity to discuss instead of a place to dwell, but God wants us to see Him as the One in whom ‘…we live and move and have our being…’ (Acts 17:28 NIV) When God led the children of Israel through the wilderness, He didn’t just show up once a day and then disappear. No, the pillar of fire was present with them all night and the cloud of smoke was present with them all day. God never leaves us. Jesus promised, ‘…I am with you always…’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV) The Psalmist said, ‘The one thing I ask of the Lord-the thing I seek most-is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…’ (Psalm 27:4 NLT) ‘That’s nice,’ you say. ‘I’d love to live in God’s house too, but I’m stuck in the real world.’ No, just the opposite; you are just one decision away from your Father’s presence. You don’t need to change your address-just your perception. Wherever you go today, whatever you face today, remind yourself: ‘He is with me!’
Mighty Men and Women of God
‘All these men of war…were of one mind to make David king.’ 1 Chronicles 12:38 NKJV
David’s ‘mighty men’ established his rule in Israel. Likewise, you are called to submit to the Lordship of Christ and demonstrate to the world what it’s like to live according to the rules-and benefits-of His Kingdom. Jesus would not have taught you to pray, ‘Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth…,’ if it’s a prayer God wouldn’t answer (Matthew 6:10 NKJV). And He answers it through people like you. So, are you interested in becoming a mighty man or woman of God? Then let’s look at King David’s army. First: They were balanced! ‘They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left…’ (1 Chronicles 12:2 KJV) When you go to extremes and get out of balance, you hurt God’s Kingdom rather than help it. For example, there are nine ‘gifts’ of the Spirit and nine ‘fruits’ of the Spirit listed in Scripture. The gifts are skill sets needed to get the job done. The fruits are Christ-like qualities that help us work together. And you must have both! Notice how God designed the garments of the high priest. On the hem at the bottom of his robe were pomegranates and bells-fruits and, surely, gifts. Why? Perhaps one reason is the bells would clang harshly against each other. So God placed pomegranates in between to keep that from happening. Getting the idea? If you’re joyful at church but cantankerous at home, you’re out of balance. If you can talk to Christians but you’ve nothing to say to non-Christians, you’re out of balance. Spiritually speaking, you’re supposed to be ambidextrous!
Here’s a second quality found in David’s ‘mighty men’: They understood the situation and had wisdom to deal with it. ‘The sons of Issachar…had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…’ (v32 NKJV) You are not called to avoid the world or denounce it, but to engage it and say, ‘God has a solution to your problem.’ Jesus promised: ‘I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.’ (Luke 21:15 NIV) When you walk with the Lord you won’t just see what’s happening around you, He will tell you what to do about it. Furthermore, when you are going the wrong way He will redirect you onto the right path… ‘They tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.’ (Acts16:7 NKJV) That night God gave Paul a vision directing him to go to Macedonia and preach. God even gave Paul a warning that the ship he was on was heading into a storm that would result in great loss. Unfortunately, nobody would listen to him (Acts 27:9-11). God not only told Joseph how to prepare for seven years of recession, but how to prosper and come out of it stronger. A lot of us have discovered that if we simply follow the advice of people and don’t consult God, it can cost us dearly. Stop compartmentalising your Christianity or confining it to Sunday mornings at church. The Bible says, ‘…The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.’ (Proverbs 2:6 NKJV)
Here’s another quality that set David’s ‘mighty men’ apart from others: They understood the importance of connection, unity, and strong relationships. ‘All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel.’ Did you know that when Roman soldiers went into battle, their shields, which protected them from chin to toe, were linked to one another forming a wall of defence? What a picture! The Bible instructs us to pray for one another, defend one another, strengthen one another, sharpen one another, bear one another’s burdens, and yes, lovingly confront one another when it’s called for. When you have a stubborn habit you can’t conquer on your own, you need someone to support you and keep you accountable. You only mature spiritually as you connect with spiritually mature people. Paul addresses those who couldn’t work with anybody and always wanted to go off and do their own thing: ‘There should be no schism in the body, but…the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.’ (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 NKJV) Disconnected from other believers you are like a body part without the benefit of a brain, a blood supply, a source of nutrition, a system that eliminates toxins, etc. Literally, you are incapable of getting anywhere or accomplishing anything worthwhile. So the word for you today is: ‘Keep rank!’