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Hi all,

Today and tomorrow I'm going to re-air 2 posts from three years ago about the nature of Jesus. I think these two posts will bless you and I pray we would together turn our eyes toward Jesus. Here we go.

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Let's dig into Jesus’ answer to Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Have you been pondering this passage?

Here is what jumps out at me – Now normally I would put all these words in red, this being Another Red Letter Day, but today I am going to paint a just a few words in blue so they stand out.

It would be awesome if you read this out loud (or out quiet) but I want it to be oral. The more faculties you involve the more tuned in you are, so let’s have a faculty party today.

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." ~ John 14:9-21

I know, that is kind of a big chunk of scripture for a blog post, but as you can see from what is highlighted, there are some pretty strong ties from top to bottom.

Here is what I saw as I pondered this passage.

There are two (or maybe three) aspects Jesus emphasizes, that He says will enable us to see the Father.

Indwelling, or cohabitation

The first is the fact that, as He says, “I am in the Father.” This He says three times, and two of these are followed with “and the Father is in Me.” He tells Philip and the rest of the disciples that they can know God. They can “see the Father” right before their eyes because Jesus is indwelt by the Father.

The best way for them to see God was to look at Jesus.

Words and Works

The second way they could see God was to look at the things Jesus was saying and doing, His words and works. He actually tells them that if they were not sure what to believe about Jesus’ relationship with God, this indwelling thing, they should believe just because of the works He was doing. He was… – well as Luke tells us:

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38

Jesus, because God was with Him, the Spirit of God dwelling on the inside, did works that demonstrated God, His character, and nature.

We read again in my favorite of all scriptures (I am pretty sure this is the top of my top ten list:)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:1-3

We see here that Jesus is not "like" God, fuzzy around the edges, like what the prophets taught, according to verse 1. Instead, Jesus is the “exact representation of His nature.” He is not a partial image, where He is only depicting "the good parts" of who God is, but Jesus is a complete revelation of God. If you don’t find it in Jesus, it is not in God. Jesus is the complete study guide to God the Father. Jesus is perfect theology. [Tweet This] There is nothing in Jesus that is not in God, and there is nothing in God that is not in Jesus. And God has seen to it that what is recorded in the Word about Jesus is enough of a revelation for us to know the Father.

So my first takeaway is pretty simple. The best way to know God, and what God is like is to look at Jesus, His words and His works. He, Jesus, tells us this repeatedly and these other passages reinforce this idea, that He only ever did what God was doing, or would do, and His words were coming straight from the throne of God.

But Jesus does not stop here. He does not simply say, you want to see God look at Me! He takes it to a place that changes everything.

Come back tomorrow, and we will see as the other shoe drops.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you are screwed in.

Ben

3

But Peter said,"I do not possess silver and gold,
but what I do have I give to you: In the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"
Acts 3:6

Look At Us

A Supplicant

From before I can remember, my papa and I would go down to the temple at the hour of prayer. He wouldn’t close his shop for the day. He put a note on the door and left everything just as it was. Then he stopped at home to get me. Mama and the girls would stay at home getting dinner ready.

“Men are made for prayer,” my papa would tell me, when I asked him why my sister didn’t have to come.

Before the praying started, the rabbi would say a few words, to guide our petitions. Mostly I didn’t know what he was saying, and didn’t much care. But I still remember one talk.

The rabbi read from the scrolls containing the Psalms. The Psalms were always my favorite readings. That day he read from one of Solomon’s psalms.

He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. Psalm 72:13

Then he told us that any man who gave to the poor was doing the Almighty’s work. He continued by telling us that when we put alms in the hand of the poor, it is as if we are putting our money directly into the hand of the Lord Himself.

He reminded us of the proverb:

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. - Proverbs 19:17

The next day when papa came to get me, I remember asking him for a penny.

“My little Gideon, what will you do with a penny today?”

“Papa, I want to give it to the lame man who sits near the temple gates. He’s there every day, and Rabbi Yosef says if we give to the poor we lend to the Lord.”

“Well then, that’s just fine, Gidi, we’ll both give the Lord a loan today.”

He went back into his room where his coin purse hung on a hook on the wall.

“Here you go Gidi my boy, you can carry them both, one for you and one for me.”

I can still remember how cool the copper felt in my tiny hand. From that day on we never went to the temple without two coppers for the lame man there. Papa told me he had been there as long as he had lived in the city.

I’m twenty now, and my papa and I still close up shop for the hour of prayer every day. I’m married and have a boy of my own, but I still work in my father's shop. It won’t be long before my little Josiah starts working with us too. We still grab a few coins to give the beggar as we head out of the shop.

One day, as we neared the temple there were some men standing over our beggar. We thought of him as our beggar, since we had given him money for more than fifteen years. We rarely stopped as we walked by. We just tossed our coins into the hat that sat before him.

I’m not sure I had ever seen his eyes. His eyes are always on the dust of the path. It may have been shame that kept his eyes from meeting ours, or perhaps he simply found people more generous without the tacit confrontation of his gaze. In any case, we never stopped there, but dropped our coins and kept moving.

These two men were standing right there and talking with him. As we approached I heard the beggar repeat the words I had heard a thousand times.

“Do you have a coin for this cripple.”

The words were so familiar to me. They were a part of me, like our meal time prayers, or my sisters giggles. I think it was those words that kept the memory of Rabbi Yosef’s message about giving to the poor so fresh in my mind.

One of the men gave a sort of shrug as if to say, we have no coin to share, but then the other reached out his hand, not as though he was going to give something, but as if he was going to pull him up out of his cot.

At this point our lame friend didn’t see what was going on, because he was still looking down.

As this stranger reached his hand out, I heard him say:

“Look at us!”

The crippled man raised his head, tentatively at first, but once he got a look at this man’s eyes, he began to look—I don’t know how to say it—with his whole face. The eyes I’d never seen, and the face I knew only by profile, now looked directly at this man—he sounded like a Galilean—with his outstretched hand.

"I do not possess silver and gold,”

At this the lame mans gaze wavered with an edge of disappointment.

“but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

His hand hung there for what seemed like minutes, until finally the lame man grabbed it and they both pulled, the Galilean pulled up and the lame man held on with both hands. Then he was on his feet.

As I stood staring it started to dawn on me how impossible this was. I may have never seen this man’s eyes, but his feet and legs sat out there in the dust and grime of the temple courts every day. They were shriveled and useless. The man had to be forty years old, and he had never used those legs for anything.

And now he was standing just a few steps away from me.

He bent over at the waist and reached down with his hands and felt his legs. I could see that they were no longer the tiny twigs that lay beside him yesterday. These were legs, with flesh and muscle.

He took a cautious step or two—feeling for his balance—testing his new legs, getting a feel for this unfamiliar sensation. Then he was walking, then leaping, then walking and running and leaping, all the while shouting praises to the Almighty, and praises to Jesus that Nazarene who was crucified just a couple months back over on skull hill.

The crowd was growing now, and the beggar—everyone knew him—was leaping and shouting praises—and shaking everyone’s hands.

The one who had lifted the lame man off his bed called for silence, and a hush came over the crowd. We all wanted to hear what this man had to say.

I later learned this was Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples. He began to preach to us about how God the Father had sent Jesus, His servant, and how we had crucified the Lord’s holy and righteous Son. This fisherman began to open our eyes to the words of the prophets and of Moses himself, and show us how in our ignorance we had killed the very Son of God.

As he preached the temple priests saw the ruckus and called the temple guards, who arrested Peter and his companion John, but not before Peter led thousands of us to faith in Jesus.

That was the day the Lord fulfilled His promise to me. For years I had lent Him my pennies, and today, He paid me my interest. He gave me an inheritance far beyond the value of copper, silver or gold. He gave me new life.

~~~

To read the original story, see Acts 3:1-4:4.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015 - all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Holy Spirit, you might like 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

4

Wineskins
From: By Book by William Henry Koebel (1872-1926) ."Madeira: Old and New" [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus often spoke in parables, and I want to pick around the edge of one this morning.

The day Jesus called Matthew (a.k.a. Levi the tax collector,) to follow Him, they headed back to Matthew’s home where Matthew hosted a “big reception for Him” (Luke 5:29) This was not some intimate gathering, but rather it was crowded with tax collectors and sinners, and apparently paparazzi, because both the Pharisee’s and the disciples of John the Baptist heard about it.

This big shindig is the setting for today’s Red Letters.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.' - Luke 5:37-39

As you probably already understand, in that day, they would put their unfermented wine into fresh leather bags, where the wine would age, and give off it’s gasses, and the skin would stretch to accommodate this expansion. As the wine aged, it became less volatile and the wine skins became less flexible.

This wine skin still worked as a perfectly acceptable vessel for other old wines that were past the fermentation stage, but could never again be use for new wine.

Ok, so we get it in the natural, but what was Jesus getting at with this teaching?

Message:

The message of the parable is pretty clear and easy to derive. The new wine He speaks of is the gospel of the kingdom, the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The old wine skins are the religious folks of the day, who are starting to crack and leak and burst at the seams as they try to take in this new wine.

Audience:

At this point in the reception He is responding to two groups of critics. I think when we approach this parable it is easy for us to point at the Pharisees as the Old School Religious folks He was rebuking, but there is a second group sitting in judgment of His carousing, the disciples of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was, in Jesus own words, the greatest prophet born of woman. Jesus gave great honor to John. John was the man who fulfilled all those prophesies, like “I send my messenger before Him to make His path straight.” He was the prophet in the spirit of Elijah who every Jewish child knew of because there was always an empty chair at the Passover feast set just for him. John the Baptist was a big deal.

But John’s day was over, and John himself pointed his followers to Jesus.

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. - John 1:35-37

But apparently there were some who had been baptized by John, who gathered together to encourage one another in their resolve to live the fasted and repentant life style John lived in the wilderness. It seems there were pockets of these disciples all over the region, because people came from far and wide to be baptized by John in the Jordan. Decades later Paul ran into some of these folks in Ephesus in Acts 19.

I believe that Jesus spoke this parable not to the Pharisees, but to these disciples of John. The parable for the Pharisees was that of the physician, but to these who were zealous for good works, the Lord has a different message.

These men were asking why Jesus’ disciples did not fast, why they were not living in the austere pattern of repentance that John’s had taught them.

I am sure God had blessed them as they walked in repentance. God showed up for them when they fasted. They were attaining some satisfaction in their walk with the Lord as they lived the life John demonstrated for them.

Then they took one look at Jesus hanging out with crowds and joining them in their parties.

The very people who did not repent and follow John were now hosting Jesus, and He was spending time with them. These are the folk that the disciples of John had set themselves against, the drunkards and gluttons.

  • Don’t they know that the way to God is through sacrifice?
  • Doesn’t everything we know about God point to His pleasure in our sacrifice?
  • How can This Man be the Messiah?
  • How can this be a move of God?
  • Isn’t our way of touching God sufficient?
  • This old wine is good enough!
  • And so it has been for the two thousand years since Jesus’ ascension, and so it is today.

God has chosen to reveal Himself to the Church progressively. Every few generations there is a move of God.

The life of the Church is like that river described in Ezekiel 47 that flows from the throne of God. The river is teaming with life, there are trees beside this river that bring healing to the nations, but the banks of the river are dead.

What happens in every generation, or at least in every new move of God is that those in the move, upon the death of its leader, build a Church on the banks of the river.

There was Luther with a break through revelation of the grace of God, and his followers built a church on the banks of the river, and rejected anything that came later. After all, the wine in their wine skin was good enough. What’s wrong with that “old time religion” that was good enough for my grandparents?

The same thing happened with Wesley, and Calvin, and Finney, and Roberts.

Jesus wants to fill your wine skin with new wine, but as you grow stiff and inflexible, you exclude yourself from the ability to grow with what God is doing today, and you  will find yourself on the banks of the river. You will be the ones criticizing ‘those upstarts.’

Lord, will you make me a new wine skin today, so I can be a carrier of new wine to my generation. [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you're screwed in!

Ben

This is a repost from last November, but it spoke to me this morning, so I share it once again with you.

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Here is a favorite post of mine from nearly two years ago - I think it will do us some good to take another look at the light!

Who is the Light of the World?

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Here Jesus proclaims that He is the light of the world. So it would appear that the standard Sunday School answer will work here - Who it the Light of the World? - Jesus!

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)

He repeats this proclamation here in John 9.

I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

And again in John 12.

But in the Sermon on the mount we get a different take.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14)

When our question is posed to Jesus, we get another answer today. Who is the light of the world? You are! That's pretty empowering isn't it? Jesus said that you (yes, I'm talking to you!) are the light of the world.

Light of the World

So how is it that He is the Light of the World, and we are the light of the world. Check out this bit from the first chapter of John:

He [John the Baptist] was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There [in Jesus] was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:8-9)

You see, Jesus is not only the light, but he is the lighter. Check out this prophesy from Isaiah about our day. (my opinion)

Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

I have heard many folks say our job is to reflect the glory of the Lord before men, but I say Jesus is calling on us to be more than reflectors. When I read these passages (feel free to read more than what I have listed here, this is just a taste) I hear the Lord saying He is the source of all light, but He sets us aflame - like candles and lanterns, not mirrors or moons. We don't simply reflect His glory, we are set ablaze with His glory, and we shine the light He has given us in the darkness, gross darkness, He has trusted us to illuminate.

I love that! What a great job He has given us. My mother always used to tell me "Bloom where you're planted." Well today I say: "Shine where you're screwed in!" [Tweet This]

Can you shine the light into the darkness He has assigned to you today? Perhaps you can share your victories with us, to encourage us to shine in our own darkness.

Thanks for dropping in today.

Ben

All scriptures are quoted from the NASB.

Sunglasses photo credit: Easa Shamih (eEko) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y via photo pin cc

Light of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lantern photo credit: ralphunden via photo pin cc

Here we are back that the pool of Bethesda and we hear one of the saddest statements.

Sir, I have no man… ~ John 5:7

My first reaction is “get hold of your self man,” “suck it up,” “quit your whining.”

Then I remember how David prayed in the cave.

(Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Thou didst know my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

Psalm 142:1-3

David was honest about how he felt when he prayed, and this did not offend God. God commands that we love Him. He does not command that we feel good about everything that passes through our life, nor that we keep it all to our selves.

God has no problem when we cry out to Him with what feels like hopelessness.

Back in Bethesda, this is not our friend’s first visit to the pool. It sounds like he has been coming, perhaps for years, perhaps for decades. I don’t know how long he had been alone, but he is alone now.

I have no man.

No man cares for my soul

There is no one who regards me

It reminds me of another man:

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus gets it.

Jesus steps in.

Jesus heals him.

Jesus restores his dignity.

Man I love Jesus! [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

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This post originally ran last August, but it touched me again this morning.

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And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)

Wonderful

Check this out – the word is not an adjective – it’s a noun. [Tweet This]

Another way to say it might be

He will be called Miracle!

Here – look where else this word is used:

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11 KJV)

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (Psalm 77:11 KJV)

Thou [art] the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. (Psalm 77:14 KJV)

And that is how Jesus lived. He was Mr. Miracle.

In fact when John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He was in fact the Messiah, and the answer was:

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. (Luke 7:22 KJV)

And when people wondered whether to believe in Jesus He told them to “believe me for the very works' sake.” (John 14:11 KJV)

Furthermore, He was a light who lit us up so we can shine, He is the miracle that miracled us so we can miracle. (right – spell and grammar check hated that)

Here is what I mean:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12 NASB)

He truly is Wonderful!

Now it’s your turn to be wonderful!

Ben NelsonMerry Christmas!

See you tomorrow

Ben

 

6

Sometimes cousins can be really different. Here I am showing my age, but do you remember the Patty Duke show? Two teenage cousins who looked exactly alike, but were different in every way – one wild and free, one poised and governed by self control.

The Bible gives us a set of cousins who are likewise considerably different.

'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. - Matthew 11:17-19

How can these two men, John the Baptist and Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God and Son of man, how can they both be servants of the Most High God, and yet be so different?

That’s what the disciples of John wanted to know, and that’s what the Pharisees wanted to know.

There is one area where they were the same.

They did not dance to the world’s tune.

The world is always trying to get us to compromise what the Lord has put before us.

John came as the final chapter of the Old Covenant. His was the closing hymn, the final chord, of a grand mournful requiem. He came preaching and demonstrating the crushing weight of unrepentant sin, and demanding that men change, and then come to be baptized.

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. - Luke 3:7-8

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus preached repentance too. I am not saying that repentance is not part of the Christian walk.

But unlike John, who dressed in an itchy shirt, ate bugs and cried in the wilderness, Jesus sat at the dinner table with all kinds of sinners.

There are two very different dinner tables we read of in the life of Jesus, Levi’s table, with tax collectors and sinners, and Simon’s table, with Pharisees and the religious elite.

These are the same two types of people that came out to John.

Neither group could influence either man.

They played the wedding march for John, but he preached a funeral message in the wilderness.

They played a funeral dirge for the Lord, and He drew them to a wedding feast.

How does the world’s tune influence you?

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to play the Christian life to the tune the world is playing, but I suggest to you today, that you tune your dial to the song of heaven.

What music would heaven have you dance to today.

Lord, help me hear from You what song You are singing over me, and let me live my life to Your rhythm. [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Shine today!

Ben

 

4

John the Baptist is in prison.

Jesus just sent the boys on a missions trip.

Jesus is out and about preaching through the cities.

Prison is not so great; No library, no HBO, no nutritional guidelines or hours in the exercise yard.

John is temped to wonder about Jesus, so he sends some of the men who were still following his teachings to make sure that the assumption he made that day, only a couple months ago, in the Jordan River, was the right one.

Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else? - Matthew 11:3

Are you tempted to wonder this now and then?

John is hearing reports of Jesus’ message of freedom.

John is remembering the promise of a messiah on whom the government would rest.

John is in prison.

You read of Jesus’ message of freedom.

You remember the stories of Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, healing the brokenhearted.

But you’re still sick.

Your loved one is dead.

You’re alone, brokenhearted, hopeless.

If you could  would ask Jesus today:

Are You the Expected One, or shall I look for someone else?

Jesus’ answer is a mystery. He does not send and angel, or earthquake and set him free. He does not send him words of hope and patience.

He tells John’s followers to go back and tell him of how Jesus is fulfilling all the prophecies and promises of the Messiah, just not in his life.

Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me. - Matthew 11:3-6

This is such an enigma.

John, you're in prison, and I am setting captives free, just not you. Don’t be offended.

What about you? Do you hear the stories of healing in the land, of renewal and revival and feel left out?

Will you take offense at Him, or will you wait on the Lord and be of good courage? [Tweet this]

Offence will build a wall between you and your hope.

Jesus taught us how to deal with just this type of situation.

Ask, and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking, and you will receive, find and the door will be open.

Don’t despair!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

8

Christ Heals a Man Paralyzed by the Gout. Mark 2:4. Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rode_1.jpg

As we look at the Red Letters today, I want to stick with this story we have been talking about all week. Today I want to observe two interesting facets in Jesus’ healing ministry.

"But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”--then He said to the paralytic--“Rise, take up your bed, and go home.” ~ Matthew 9:6

So, I want to be more like Jesus, in the way I do everything. Don’t you?

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never prayed for the sick? He did not pray and ask God to do something. In fact Jesus tells us specifically how He does what He does.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.  ~ John 5:19 (NKJV)

So, according to Jesus, rather than pray for God to heal this sick man, Jesus looks at what the Father is doing, and acts as the hands of God on earth to bring about what the Father is doing in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong here, I do think we need to pray, but perhaps the prayer we should be praying is “Lord, help me see what you are doing right here and right now.” [Tweet this] Of course then we might find ourselves making mud out of our spit, or writing in the dirt, or even declaring that someone’s sins are forgiven.

The second observation I want to make is that He often adds a call to action to His ministry.

I know when someone comes to me for prayer, there are times when I ask God to do something in their life, and I walk away hopeful.

Jesus expected and inspected. He ministered in whatever way He saw the Father ministering, and then checked it out with a call to action.

Rise, take up your bed, and go home.

One time in our home group, during a time of prayer we prayed for the shoulder of one of our members. We laid our hands on her, and then we just went on with the meeting. Later that evening she was talking and pointed up in the air for some reason, I don’t remember that part, but what I will never forget is the look on her face when she realized all the pain in her shoulder was gone.

We laughed and rejoiced, but I realized that we should have inspected right away to see what the Lord had done, so we could have given Him the glory due Him sooner.

When you pray for someone to be healed, I encourage you to ask them to do what they could not do before.

There is an account in Jesus ministry where He ministered to a man who was blind, and when He asked Him if He could see, the once blind man said:

I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about. ~ Mark 8:24

Then check out what happens next:

Then again He (Jesus) laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. ~ Mark 8:25

The Son of God, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, needed to touch this man twice in order to fully heal him.

If He (Jesus) had prayed or ministered once and walked away, the man would have been better off than before, but still impaired. Jesus stuck with Him and saw it through.

So perhaps, though I only promised two observations, we have a bonus observation before us.

Don’t quit!

Let’s recap.

  1.  See what the Father is doing. Let your prayer be, for your own sight, and partnership with the Father’s hand.
  2. Check for results
  3. Don’t just move on, if your first attempt at ministry is unsuccessful or does not bring the results you were looking for.

One last caveat, if in the end your ministry does not change the circumstance, realize there are many factors at play, way more than we can understand. Be sure the person you are praying for has been loved, and is not left feeling condemned or worse off than you found them. Does that make sense?

Ben NelsonHey, thanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

By the way, if you missed the first hand account of this day in Jesus life, you should check out "Arise, Take up your bed and walk"

4

Here we are back that the pool of Bethesda and we hear one of the saddest statements.

Sir, I have no man… ~ John 5:7

My first reaction is “get hold of your self man,” “suck it up,” “quit your whining.”

Then I remember how David prayed in the cave.

(Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Thou didst know my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

Psalm 142:1-3

David was honest about how he felt when he prayed, and this did not offend God. God commands that we love Him. He does not command that we feel good about everything that passes through our life, nor that we keep it all to our selves.

God has no problem when we cry out to Him with what feels like hopelessness.

Back in Bethesda, this is not our friend’s first visit to the pool. It sounds like he has been coming, perhaps for years, perhaps for decades. I don’t know how long he had been alone, but he is alone now.

I have no man.

No man cares for my soul

There is no one who regards me

It reminds me of another man:

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus get’s it.

Jesus steps in.

Jesus heals him.

Jesus restores his dignity.

Man I love Jesus!

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

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