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We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
 
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
 
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
 
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
 
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
 
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
 
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
 
Jesus approaches one man.
 
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
 
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
 
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
 
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
 
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
 
This is a great place to start.
 
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
 
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
 
Do you wish to get well?
 
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
 
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
 
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
 
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
 
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
 
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
 
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
 
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
 
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
 
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
 
But did He?
 
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
 
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
 
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
 
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
 
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
 
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
 
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
 
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
 
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
 
Now, get up and do it!
 
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
 
Hey - thanks for stopping in.
 
See you again soon.
 
Ben
 
PS - Get up and walk.

A royal official hears that Jesus is back in Cana. Perhaps he had been at the wedding, or met someone who had been. In any case, he comes to Jesus because his son is sick and near death.

Not only had he likely heard of Jesus’ turning the water to wine, by now, news was spreading across all Galilee that Jesus was healing the sick.

A man’s love for his son makes him so some things that he might no normally do. In this case, we can assume that the man has exhausted his natural resources to save the life of his son. Hearing that this miracle worker is in town, he heads to Cana. From the way the story is told, it seems he may have had to travel a day’s journey.

At first Jesus makes a comment that might put many off.

So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." - John 4:48

It seems as though Jesus is bemoaning the fact that people want to see signs, and other wise will never believe. But is that wrong? Is it a bad thing? Isn’t that the premise for John’s gospel?

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31

And, in fact, Jesus doesn’t begrudge this man his sign. Those standing by would not see this one, but the royal official would experience God’s power and glory first hand. Not only that, we would get an understanding of the power of the kingdom of God over space and time.

But, as I mentioned in the first installment of this series, Mary told us to do whatever He tell us. So let’s check out the imperative in the story.

The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:49-50

Just before we look at the red letters, notice that the man’s request pulled on Jesus to work in a way the man could understand. How often do our prayers try to pull God into the box we’ve created for Him?

He says, “Sir, come…” In this royal officials mind, Jesus needed to be present in the flesh to “fix” his problem, to deal with his issue.

What was he expecting? He wanted Jesus to come to his son’s bedside and pray, or touch him, or speak words of life, or perhaps like Elisha did lay on the child, mouth to mouth, eye to eye and hand to hand.

I’m not sure what he was expecting, but Jesus didn’t even pray. The truth is, you never see Jesus pray for the sick. You see him heal the sick. But, that’s a message for a different day.

What did Jesus do? No matter how you search you’ll be hard pressed to find him doing anything in this story. He just tells the man to go.

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." - John 4:50

At this point we see some remarkable faith in the royal officials life. I want you to get this. Jesus is the truth. When He said “your sone lives,” that was not a wish, or a hope, it was true. Jesus, said it and the royal official believed the word.

The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:50

This Word from Jesus was a seed, and the man’s heart was good soil, prepared to receive the word with gladness, and move in faith at that moment.

He did not come back with any BUTs.

I might have. How about you?

Jesus, are you sure you can’t come with me. I want you to touch my son, I want you to pray for my son, lay hands on him, cast his demons out, hold him, coddle him. Why won’t you come?

We learn the mans son was healed right then, at that moment. With the word spoken and received, the healing, a days’ journey away, was already manifest. “Your son lives!”

What Jesus speaks comes to pass.

What has Jesus spoken life to in your world?

What have you laid before Jesus hoping for Him to come and touch and heal?

Have you heard Him say, “Go?” Has He already released the answer?

Your son lives.

Hallelujah!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Keep shining,

Ben

When did I know for sure?

I can still remember the day—the day my suspicions about Jesus shifted to confidence—the day the light dawned in my heart and I knew that I knew God’s chosen Messiah stood before me.

My name is Andrew and I’d been following Jesus for a few weeks. One morning He woke us early and told us we were going to a wedding. It was before Matthew joined our group so there were only six of us then. It was early in the spring. I remember how crisp the air seemed as we packed up and headed to Cana. Mary, Jesus' mother, had some family in Cana. She told Jesus there was room for all of us to stay for the full week to enjoy the festivities.

That was a particularly rainy spring. When we arrived in Cana, we were a mess. At Mary's urging we found the stone pots set aside for washing. They were massive stone tubs filled with water. When we found them, there was a line at each one. Many others arrived as we did all caked with dust and mud from their travels. Each of us took care to get the mud and filth off our feet, hands and faces. Then Jesus led us off to present ourselves to the wedding party.

On the second day of the wedding celebration, John and I began wondering why we were spending the week here. Usually our days consisted of gathering groups to hear Jesus teach. Sometimes we’d go to a synagogue in a small town. Afterwards, Jesus would walk us through the passages they read in the meeting and share His amazing insights. It always seemed to me that He knew the scriptures far better than the local rabbi. He wouldn’t talk about some ancient rabbi’s thoughts, like they do in the gatherings. He would compare scripture to scripture. He’d point out the similarities in the messages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or the final outcome for Nineveh in Nahum. I could never keep all those prophets straight in my mind, but it was as though He knew them—personally. For Him the history of our people, Israel, seemed to be recent memory, as if He lived through it with them. When I learned those old stories as a boy growing up, it all seemed so long ago and far away—like a story-book. When He taught us, it played out like He was in the middle of each event. He would bring the scriptures to life for us.

It is was mid-afternoon that second day when John said, “I thought He wanted us to see something. So far He hasn’t even done one of His—Let’s talk about…—things in the evenings. He just seems to be enjoying the wedding.

That’s when things started to get interesting.

One of Mary’s relatives and I sat not far from the cooking tent as she told me her story. She and Mary had been pregnant at the same time. I came to find out later that this was, in fact, the mother of John the Baptizer. He mentored me before Jesus came on the scene.

That’s when one of the waiters approached Mary. He looked nervous. I couldn’t hear what he said, but she went right over to Jesus. She started talking with Him, gesturing toward the waiter.

She seemed agitated when she approached Him. At first He turned away, as if ignoring her panic. She turned to some waiters who stood with her. At this point she was facing us, and I could hear her say, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” They followed Him.

That’s when He gathered us together and said, “They’ve run out of wine.”

Peter started right in. “What can we do about it? Do any of you know Cana? Is this even our problem?”

Jesus silenced Him with a turn of His hand and went on, “Help the waiters. They’re filling those stone washing tubs we used when we arrived. That should be plenty.”

Nathaniel, a little confused, asked him, “Plenty of what? What are you going to do with those filthy pots?”

Jesus moved on as if He hadn’t heard him.

In short order we brought Jesus over to 6 of those basins, full to the brim. These water pots—tubs, really—were used for the ceremonial washing before each meal and as a place to clean up after a journey as we had done. This washing was more than a practical cleanse. It indicated setting aside the spiritual filth we’d been walking in. We Jews like to keep short accounts with God. We wash before every meal to remind us of our need to stay in good standing with God. It keeps the corrupting nature of the world in the foreground of our hearts and minds.

There we all stood looking at those filthy tanks of water. I didn’t know what to expect next. Would He have us scrub them out, or dump them. What was He thinking.

But He didn’t do anything. He stood there quietly looking into one of the pots, and then looked up and said to one of the waiters, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."

The two waiters who were there with us looked at each other, as if to ask why. Nothing had changed. We were still looking at one hundred eighty gallons of water sitting in six filthy tubs.

They stood there for a few beats. Jesus gave a sharp nod toward the water, and the server to the right reached over for ladle. He filled it with the water, and two of them turned and started walking toward the headwaiter. They went about three steps and paused to look back at Jesus. He motioned them on with a gesture. They again started toward their employer. One of them sniffed at the liquid in the ladle, hoping for something more, but disappointed. He shrugged and went on.

From where I was standing, I couldn’t see what was in the spoon. What I could see was the two men look at each other with a start, just as they reached their master. Then they held the ladle up to him, and pointed back to the water pots. That’s when I realized the pots that stood before us no longer contained water. They were brim full of deep rich wine, gallons and gallons of beautiful red liquid.

The headwaiter took a sniff, then a sip, then he swallowed the rest of the wine in the spoon. He started back toward us. It was then I realized the father of the bride, our host, stood beside one of the tubs. The waiter came to him and said, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.

The waiters began to fill bottles from the tubs so this new wine could take its place at the tables.

When I finally got a taste of the miracle wine, tears came to my eyes. Standing in the midst of these festivities I saw the picture He had painted for us, for me. Most of the guests enjoyed this good wine, but I saw the source. I knew this wonderful vintage, transformed from that vile water, looked a lot like my life. If He could make this water, contaminated with the offscouring of life’s filth, into this fine wine, couldn't He transform my life too? Couldn't he take the filthy water of my sin crusted past, and turn it into something beautiful and full of joy?

I wanted to tell everyone that it was Jesus, my mentor, my friend, who made this wine, but He pulled us aside. He did not want to make a big deal of this with the people.

I knew then. Jesus is the Messiah for whom we've waited.

~~~

To read the original story, see John 2:1-11.

 

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

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John records several signs with the intention of leading us to faith in Jesus.
 
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31 NASB
 
I’ve heard many say there are seven signs in John’s gospel, but I count nine. We’re going to look at the first seven over the next few weeks.
 
Turning Water to Wine The Royal Official’s Son Healing at the Pool of Bethesda Feeding of the Five Thousand Walking on the Water Healing the Blind Man Raising of Lazarus
 
Now, look at this list. If you were Jesus, and you were planning your ministry strategy, where would you start? Let’s assume you know how much power you have at your fingertips, where would you start. Ok - maybe not with raising the dead, we all like a good climax. But how about one of those times Jesus healed everyone in town or fed the masses. Don’t you want to come onto the scene with a big splash?
 
But John starts his account of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with a miracle Jesus Himself didn’t even want to do. Even the venue was regrettable, a little family wedding in a tiny town in Galilee. Not in the Temple in Jerusalem, or in the courts of the king, but He starts His ministry in a little nothing town.
 
And then we have the nature of the miracle. Many of the miracles Jesus did brought relief to suffering, or clear glory to God.
 
But John starts with this very strange story.
 
Jesus and His disciples find themselves invited to a wedding. At this point, we know He’s got at least five followers. I’m guessing there were seven by this time.* Mary, the mother of Jesus is also there.
 
You know the story. They run out of wine at this wedding party. Weddings could last up to a week in the tradition of the day, but do you know what they called a wedding with no wine?
Over!
I’m not sure how Mary learned of this or why she felt responsible to do something about it. I guess all moms know everything. She found out and takes the news to Jesus. “They have no wine.”
 
Jesus’s isn’t impressed. He says, “Mama, Why are you telling me? My time has not come.”
 
He’s not scolding her, but He didn't feel the pull of the Spirit to do anything about this particular issue.
 
So why this story?
 
Remember when Jesus started speaking in parables? The first parable is the model. He uses that model to teach not only the lesson but how to interpret all the other parables.
 
So it is here. 
 
Mary is going to give us a key to all John’s signs.
 
Jesus blows it off, but Mary does not accept His pass.
 
Mary gives us a command—an imperative.
 
"Whatever He says to you, do it." - John 2:5
 
There it is. The key.
 
This is what’s going to open up every other sign.
 
This is what’s going to open up every solution in your life.
 
You know the rest of the story. Jesus has them grab the nasty tanks of water where people have been washing off the filth from their live’s journeys. They fill these tanks up to the brim and then Jesus tells them to ladle some out and take it to the boss. Jesus makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 gallons of wine.
 
The waiters carry this ugly water to their boss, all the while smelling dirty water in the ladle. Right up till the head waiter puts it to his lips. Suddenly, he’s tasting wine. And not just any wine. This is fine wine, good wine, the best wine.
 
Guess what—the party is on!
 
You know, for thirty years, I’ve heard this preached as “Jesus saved the best wine for last,” but that is not what the text says.
 
It says you’ve saved the best for “NOW.”
 
For “NOW.”
 
Not for the last generation, not for the last days, not for the day before the 2nd coming. I suppose that could be us. But even is Jesus tarries, this word is for us.
 
He made the “BEST” wine for “NOW.”
 
I love this.
 
Bring the water pot of your life, filled with the filthy water of your past, and place it in front of Jesus. Allow Him to fill you with the living water—the Holy Spirit. As He ladles you out to this thirsty world, what they will experience is the best wine, NOW. And not just a communion cup half full, but abundant wine. Enough to bring joy into every circumstance.
 
So what now? What about us?
 
Go and do whatever He tells you to do.
 
That’s going to require you to listen for His words daily. That’s going to demand ears willing to hear and a heart willing to believe and follow no matter where He leads.
 
Are you in?
 
Let’s do this.
 
Hey, thanks for coming by.
 
Come back again soon.
 
Ben
 

NOTES:

*We’re told the two of John the Baptists followers left John and began following Jesus. One of them was Andrew, Peter’s brother. Andrew went and got Peter. Then Jesus met Philip who brought Him to Nathanael. So that’s five we know of for sure. I’m thinking James and John are in the group too, but I can't prove it.
 
I mentioned in my introduction that Bishop Joseph Garlington preached a message at the Voice of the Apostles Conference last week, in Lancaster, PA. His sermon inspired this series of messages. In it, he highlighted the imperatives Jesus spoke for each of these signs. I am going to take some time to look at these signs and those imperatives in this blog.
 
Jesus, in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) tells us to teach those we touch to obey everything He commanded. In simplest of terms, Jesus’ commands us to love God with all we have and all we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. But in these Jesus encounters, we’ll see Jesus giving clear instructions to those around Him. Let’s look together at these commands and see what they have for us today.
 
If you missed any part of this series, I’m collecting the links on the intro article here.

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I spent this last week at Global Awakening’s Voice of the Apostles conference in Lancaster PA. By our best reckoning, this was the 8th or 9th time Corinne (my wife) and I have attended the VOA conference. The level of teaching and ministry, and the sheer revelation, always blow us away during these 4 days.

The opening evening was with Bishop Joseph Garlington. If you’ve never heard him preach, you really must experience it. He speaks with the accompaniment of his keyboard player and dear friend Clarance. You never know when he might break into song, with his beautiful tenor voice.

I can remember back to when I was courting my wife in the 70’s her mom, my dear mother-in-law Barbara, used to tell stories of his preaching over forty years ago. Back then, my Father-in-law, Don Hayhurst ran a tape ministry which recorded the preaching from the Full Gospel Business Men’s ministry in Bergen County, New Jersey. Bishop Garlington was a regular preacher in that venue.

This week, his opening message was from the book of John. He spoke about the signs of John. I’ve studied these signs before and heard many sermon series teaching on them. But Bishop Garlington brought new light to them. I’ve decided I will take the next few weeks and press through them and share some of what he brought, and press into the life in these beautiful accounts of encounters with Jesus.

So keep your eyes open for new posts. If you’re not subscribed here, drop your email address in the box to the right (near the top of the page) and you’ll receive emails as these installments are published. As I post to this series I'll add links to below so you can grab it all here eventually.

Thanks for stopping by, and get ready for a great ride.

Love you!

Ben

 

Here's the rest of the series so far:

Mary's Imperative - #Signs - Episode 1

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Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandalsfrom your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." - Exodus 3:5 NASB


Ground—it’s made of dirt—you know—soil. It’s composed of sand, silt, clay and humus—not the chickpea side dish—decayed organic material. Thanks, Brighthub.

So how does this mess of ingredients become holy?

Was this particular ground always holy, and as such, inviting to the Lord God, YHWY? Moses just stumbled upon this place where God loved to hang out.

No.

This ground became holy by the presence of the Holy One. God didn’t come to this remote location because He had heard about a holy spot. God came to this remote location because Moses would be passing, and God wanted to talk to Moe.

Holy is what happens in the presence of God. When God shows up, it’s not just the atmosphere around Him that changes. Everything changes—even the ground gets holy.

Now, in the Church today, there are a lot of Christians who feel like dirt. They reckon themselves to be vile and filthy and not fit habitations for the Most Holy One.

Wrong.

Though we come from dust and are returning to it, when God shows up, He fashions of us a habitation suitable for His presence. He takes the ground and makes it holy.

So many say, I’m just a sinner saved by grace. But O the work that salvation works. The old sinner man/woman is buried in the ground, then God makes the ground holy, by His presence.

Up from the grave comes a holy child of God, transformed by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of the Living God.

Free from the bondage of sin.

Free from the deadly consequences.

Free from the domination of temptation.

Free to be a home for the Source of all holiness.

You are holy ground, so you better take your shoes off. You’re in the presence of YHWH. He lives in you.

Hallelujah—What great salvation.

Thanks for coming by,

See you again soon,

Ben

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"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." - Luke 1:45 NASB

Mary was pregnant. She was not yet married. The baby was not the product of her relationship with her betrothed.

That’s the world’s take.

Elizabeth, who now knew first hand what God could do, saw it differently.

"You are blessed, my dear cousin."

Blessed!

We have, out of the mouth of Elizabeth and 9th Beatitude.

Blessed are you when you believe that God will do what He said He would.

Earlier in Luke 1, the angel told Mary,

"For nothing will be impossible with God." - Luke 1:37 NASB

Mary believed.

Mary received this massive blessing.

Note-The blessing probably didn’t feel like such a blessing at times. But we step back now and see what a huge privilege it was for her to carry and care for God’s own Son.

Can you believe that God will do what He said He would?

Your Blessed in believing, and you will be blessed, carrying whatever seeming burden comes with the blessing because God is in it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Come back soon.

Ben

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Check out this great post about the power of our words by my friend Ginny Wilcox.

 

Speak the word only

ROMANS 4:17

‘…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

Words have impact and power in our lives…

We all confess this to be true, but do we really believe it, do our lives reflect it? What about our prayers; are they prayers filled with item after item of what is wrong with a situation, begging God to hear our prayers and fix everything?

What about those words we choose when we speak to God, do they not have impact and power? (Positively or negatively) ... (Read more here.)

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Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? - Matthew 7:9 ESV

There was a day when if you wanted to relate to the Lord God, your only choice was the law written in stone, but that was not God’s original intent. God was looking for relationship—friendship.

In Exodus, God hands His chosen people His Word—laws written in stone. The people send word to Him (because they would not—could not—address Him directly) that they would obey everything He told them to do.

All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. - Exodus 19:8 ESV

But from the beginning, it was not so.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" - Genesis 3:8-9 ESV

I infer from this it was the norm for YHWH (in the form of a man, that would be Jesus—see Philippians 2:7-8,) Adam, and Eve to walk together in the cool of the day and commune—like friends.

But by the time we get to Israel and their exodus from Egypt, man is too awed by this miracle working God of wonders to think in terms of friendship. They can only imagine a Master/slave relationship with this God of plagues and miracles.

Master/slave works okay, but it’s not God’s best. His idea was a walk in the garden. Jesus demonstrates this as He often heads to a garden or other quiet place to be this His Father. Solomon wrote about it in the Song of Songs. (4:16-5:1)

God’s original plan is not the law of stone, an external law imposed upon us. He desires an internal relationship with His people. Bread, eaten by His beloved children, becoming part of us. The Word of God made flesh—the Bread of Life, broken for us, and eaten as a simple demonstration that God has come into us, He longs to be part of us, one with us.

The law God wants for us is not an external, hard, cold lump of stone. His holy law of love has to become part of us—written on our hearts—energized by His Spirit. A law that is so ingrained in us that our greatest desire is to walk in that simple law of love.

"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 NASB

Do you see it?

Lord, today, I ask you for bread, and for a heart of flesh where you can write Your law—Your love—with Your finger, Your love for me and for those I touch today.

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon,

Ben

6

I want to see with God’s eyes.
 
This is especially true when it comes to how He views the people around me. In God’s economy, people comprise the main treasure. All the stuff we find ourselves running after amounts to so much flotsam and jetsam.
 
Perhaps you, like me, forget this from time to time. We shift our focus from seeking and saving the lost, like Jesus, to using people to gain those things we yearn for. The fame or fortune we grasp for, in the end, mean nothing, while the people we used or ignored to get there, were the ones we were sent to touch.
 
They need an encounter with Jesus, and we use them for our own advancement.
 
They have broken hearts and crushed dreams and we see only how they can be part of our plan for profit.
 
We like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day hate people unless we can use them to build their own kingdoms.
 
Luke 15 contains three of the most well-known parables Jesus ever told; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost (prodigal) son. But the context is set with these two quick verses.
 
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them. - Luke 15:1-2
 
Though there is a ton of meat we could glean from these three parables, and there are plenty of life applications we can draw from each. But today, I find it interesting that they each end, in the same way, with Rejoicing.
 
[7] I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
 
[10] In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
 
[32] But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. - Luke 15:7, 10, 32
 
When Jesus looked at the lowest of the low, He saw His Father’s business, God’s highest priority.
 
In the context of the whole teaching, He looked past the current life of these tax collectors, these “sinners.” He saw rejoicing in heaven over their repentance. He found no pleasure in where they were but looked at the potential party in heaven.
 
Some preaching today finds these their place in flames and wrath. Jesus looked at their potential for heaven. He saw what the Father created them for. That is what He spoke into.
 
The writer of the book of Hebrews says this:
 
… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, … Hebrews 12:2
 
His entire life was given to this one task.
 
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. - Luke 19:10
 
He chose every word for its value in drawing prodigals home.
 
He looked at every person He met and envisioned the party in heaven. He saw the potential for a life filled with joy in the kingdom of heaven for each sinner He engaged.
 
Not so much for me.
 
I curse bad drivers, hang up on telemarketers, manipulate those I’m buying from, and pressure those I’m selling to. I walk past the homeless as if they don’t exist. I fear those I don’t understand. I think the worst of a man or woman based on his or her appearance, clothing, style choices or mannerisms. I do what I can to curry favor with those who can offer me advancement. I do it in business with those who can make me look good.
 
I even do this in the church. I live in ways that will make me look more spiritual. I choose my words and topics so that I seem to be the most godly, while at the same time ignoring the person obviously hurting in the pew beside me. I rub shoulders with those who can promote my agenda, while letting the visitors, seeking a touch from God, slip away unnoticed, and untouched.
 
Lord, I DO want to see with your eyes. I pray that your priorities would become mine and I would appraise with your value system. God forgive my indifference to those you treasure and give me a heart that loves without worrying about my reward.
Glad you stopped by.
See you again soon,
Ben
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