Have you ever read about my friend "BART" in Mark 10? How I want to be like blind "Bart"! Here is his story:
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I love that he SHOUTED. He is not afraid to cry out to Jesus. Listen to what happens next...
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Isn't that always the way? Someone is always there to tell us to be quiet....don't bother Jesus....He is too busy.....He isn't concerned with our "little problems."
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
Don't you love that? Jesus asks each of us, "What do you want Me to do for YOU?"
He FOLLOWS Jesus.
May I always follow You, Jesus. May I always follow You.
Father, thank You that You are ever ready to heal me....all I have to do is ask. May I always seek hard after you, no matter who or how many are telling me to "shut up." May I be like the man and SHOUT LOUDER! Lord, may I have that kind of faith! Lord, thank You for Your compassion. Thank You that You open wide my eyes to see You. Thank You that, although I was blind, now I see. Thank You, Jesus. Praise You.
Jesus said to her, " I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in You, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be My disciples. John 15:5-8
Have you ever thought about this verse? Have you wondered what Jesus meant when He said He was a vine? I love that God’s Word gives us examples from our daily lives that help teach spiritual Truth. When we ponder and visualize the verses, asking God for a spirit of wisdom and understanding, the scriptures come alive, truly teaching us!
What happens when a branch is separated from its vine...its source of life?
When we took our Christmas tree out to the curb last Christmas, my kids wondered why we didn’t just plant the beautiful tree in the back yard. I explained that although the tree still looked green and pretty, it was dead. It had been cut away from “the vine”- or it’s roots- where it gets its nutrients. I explained that the tree wouldn’t grow anymore, no matter how rich the soil was. It was only good to be “picked up, thrown into the fire and burned,” or in our case, picked up by the recycling truck and mulched.
We need to remain in our Vine (Jesus) to have life. If we are abiding in an intimate relationship with Him, we will bear much fruit. To be fruitful, flowering, vibrant, ALIVE, we must be connected to the Source of Life….Jesus. We must be drawing on Him to sustain us, to nourish us, to make us flourish.
When I don’t, I wither.
I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday once that were gorgeous. But, they weren’t connected to the vine. They were cut away. And, still they remained vibrant, lovely, pleasing…..
Not one week.
Not two weeks.
Not three weeks.
SIX weeks they remained gorgeous.
But, eventually, they withered. Eventually they died. I had to throw them away.
Like the flowers, I may stay beautiful for a while. I may be “OK” for a week….or six weeks….or a year. But, eventually, I will wither. Jesus said in verse 4, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” I can’t bear fruit on my own. I must stay connected to Him.
He is my source.
Lord, help me to always turn to You as my Source. I want to remain, abide, flow in You and I know then that Your Life flows into me, allowing me to bear fruit. I know when I am disconnected from You I wither. Fill my heart with desire for You, O God!
This is a series I first posted April, 2008. I am re-posting it in honor of Easter. For the first 5 parts, please scroll down...
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when He sees the wolf coming, He abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10:11-13
Jesus says He will lay down His life for us. He shows us the OPPOSITE of who He is by showing us "the hired hand." Jesus will never abandon us. He will stay and fight....fight to the death.
Jesus cares for you. He is willing to give up everything for you. He will never leave. He will never forsake us. Psalm 139 says, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I go to flee from Your Presence? If I go to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast." We can never escape God's LOVE!
I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16
Oh, how this is THRILLING to me! Jesus is saying that His flock is not just the Jewish people, but that He is including the Gentiles as well! We are all of ONE flock. What a great illustration for us today. We are ONE church, no matter what denomination we are. God is "not willing that one should perish," but everyone be saved.
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life- only to take it up again. No one takes if from me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I have received from My Father. John 10:17-18
When we think of the Passion of the Christ.....that Jesus was persecuted and sentenced to death....we reflect on His words: " I lay down My life." It is not the Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus. It is not the Roman Governor, Pilate who crucified Jesus. It is not the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus.
First posted for an Easter series April 2008. This is part of a series....if you would like to read the first 4 parts, please scroll down or click here and follow links at the end of the post.
Have you ever walked in darkness? Stumbled around in the pitch black? It is hard to walk in darkness. When the power goes out and there is no light, you find yourself groping around in what was once familiar places, sometimes to stub your toe on chair you have sat in a million times. What is even worse is when you find yourself in an UNFAMILIAR place in the dark. It can be very scary. It is easy to lose your footing, easy to lose your way. Have you ever been driving when it has gotten so dark that even your headlights aren't enough light to navigate with confidence through unfamiliar territory?
Jesus says that we don't have to stumble, we don't have to fall. We don't have to fear the darkness. We don't have to lose our footing or our confidence. He is the LIGHT. He will shine in our darkness. He is like a lighthouse pointing the way, the direction for us to go.
Have you ever been in such a terrible situation, going through such difficult circumstances that it feels like darkness is surrounding you, engulfing you? Do you feel hopeless in your darkness? Jesus wants to shine through that darkness. Psalm 139 says, "even the darkness will not be dark to you (God); the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." No darkness can hold God in- even the darkness becomes like day. God's light shines in the darkness. God will make the darkest night, the most hopeless of circumstances shine like day.
I love that Jesus teaches us that He is the Light of the world right after the passage of the sinful woman. It means even more in this context. This woman had been walking in darkness, bond by sin, hopeless....But, Jesus frees her, forgives her, redeems her, takes away her shame, and shines Light into her darkness, empowering HER to walk in the Light, free from the darkness.
There is freedom and power in Christ.
In John 8, Jesus is in the temple teaching. There are people all around- the crowd is huge. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. These men had caught her in the very ACT of adultery. They had pulled her out of bed, naked. Can you imagine? She is caught in the very act of sin. There is no excuse, there is no rationalizing. There is no glimmer of innocence. She is laid bare, naked, guilty. These men drag her to the temple, maybe still naked, or barely clothed, where she is faced with this huge crowd.
The Pharisees say, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” These men do not care about the woman, but are trying to trick Jesus.
But, what does Jesus say? Does He condemn her to death? Does He call for the punishment she(and we) deserve? What does Jesus do? Is He going to stone her? (Does He condemn US?)
In verse 6, it says, “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.” Can you imagine how angry the Pharisees are getting by now? What is Jesus doing? Why is He writing on the ground? They keep questioning Him, they keep demanding Him to answer. Jesus finally straightens up as says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And, then, he stoops down and writes again on the ground.
The Bible says, “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first.” I think of this, and I realize, the older I get, the more I see my need for a Savior. The older ones see their sin, they realize they are NOT without sin and they leave first. Soon, the younger ones follow until only Jesus and the woman are left.
Look very closely at this passage.
First, He straightens up, I think , so He can look into her face, into her eyes. Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” I believe He wanted to take away her shame. He wanted to look full in her face, making her face radiant. And, Beloved, He wants us to look into His face, radiant, never covered with shame.
Jesus says to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She answers, “No one, sir.” And then, Jesus says, “Then neither do I condemn you.” Jesus is saying to you, “Neither do I condemn you.” Look into His face. There is the face of your Savior. He is perfect, He is sinless. He is God, but His desire is to save you, not condemn you. Jesus forgives.
I am sure this woman felt so grateful that her sin was forgiven, and she probably was so surprised to even be alive. But, I wonder if she also worried about what she would do next . She had just been publicly humiliated. Talk about airing your dirty laundry. Her circumstances seemed very hopeless. But, she stays right there in front of Jesus. She knows that He has something she needs. As they are together, I imagine Jesus looking right into her face.
Notice what He says next to her. Jesus tells her, “Go and sin no more. Leave your life of sin.” Many of us read these words as a harsh warning. “You better not do this again! You better not mess up. You better be good or tomorrow you are going to end up on the rock pile.”
But, that is not the joy of redemption! Jesus is saying, “Go- you are free. You are not in bondage to sin. YOU ARE NOT IN BONDAGE TO YOUR PAST. You do not have to be a slave, with a chain around your neck.” He is empowering her to walk as a new creation- fully righteous- fully clean- a daughter, a bride of the King.
How do I know that that is what Jesus means? Look at the very next thing that Jesus teaches us in John 8:12. His very NEXT WORDS ARE: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk again in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Whew! Don’t you know how much that meant to the people hearing that? They had just seen what happened. They saw with their own eyes what Jesus had just done for this sinful woman. He had saved her and now He extends it to all- telling all of us that we will never walk again in darkness! Do you see the connection to what Jesus had just done, and now what He promises to all? Salvation is so much more than going to heaven when we die- although THAT IN AND OF ITSELF IS GLORIOUS AND WORTH ACCEPTING OUR SAVIOR- but, it is also about living in His saving grace and freedom here on earth! Jesus wants to release us from bondage, depression, fear, doubt, mediocrity…
Jesus, thank you for being our Light. I praise you. I worship you. I follow you.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus said several times,
Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." -John 6:35
Jesus said this right after the miracle of feeding 5,000 people. I love that! They had been hungry and He had fed them with earthly food, then He gives them the Real Food- Himself! They had experienced hunger and were fed with bread, but He tells them that He is the Bread of Life. He tells US that He is this bread....
Are you hungry?
Jesus said that when we fill up on Him, have a relationship with Him, we will not go hungry. He says when we believe in Him we will never be thirsty again.
Jesus met with a woman and said something very similar. While talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, (John 4) Jesus talks about “living water.” He points out the “world’s” water- the water of the well, and says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.”
Isn't that true with our “water”? Food, possessions, praise from man, material possessions, or watching TV never satisfies us. We continually want more and more. Our desire becomes insatiable, sometimes consuming us. The more we have, the more we want! Jesus tells the woman at the well, “ But, whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Lord, thank You for being my daily bread. When I pray the Lord's prayer and pray, "Give us today our daily bread," I am praying for my needs of the day, but I am also praying for You, Jesus! I want You, Jesus to be my "daily bread"! I want to be filled, satisfied with You. Lord, You say when I fill up on You, I will never go hungry. Thank You! Jesus, You said Your bread was to the do the will of the Father. Lord, I want that to be my bread, also! I want to do Your will! Lord, fill my desires, my needs, my hopes, my fears, fill everything I am with You! Thank You that you are my Bread from Heaven- my everything! I love You, Lord! I love You, Jesus!