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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.

9

photo credit: gharness via photopin cc
photo credit: gharness via photopin cc

In Matthew 12 Jesus is in the synagogue and there is a man there with a withered hand. After He heals this man the Pharisees are furious with Him and “…conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” (vs.14)

I was struck by the next verse this morning.

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. - Matthew 12:15-16

This is only one of many times when Jesus healed all who came to Him.

We could look at this story from many different angles. We could look at how Jesus handled stress, or how the Pharisees hated Him, but today I have a single simple thought.

Following Jesus is a good idea.

It’s a good idea to follow Jesus, even when those around you speak with authority try to warn you off His trail.

Some may tell you that you’re too religious.

Some may say you are a fool to follow Him.

Some may say any religion leads to the same place.

Some may plot to kill is influence in your life.

But I believe that today, if you follow Jesus, you will find that He is still healing those who follow Him.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

He says

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; - John 10:27

My only response to that this morning is

Bbbbaaaaaaa

Come – let’s follow Jesus today!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

2

Super simple point today.

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. Matthew 9:9

In Matthew’s account it seems as though Jesus is, at this stage of the gospel, hanging around His own home town, Nazareth. (see Matthew 9:1) and He runs into the tax collector, and they connect.

Was He there paying His taxes?

I can see this going down like this.

Jesus walks up to the table or booth, or how ever it was set up. Maybe it was like the DMV and they had to stand in line with a security detail lurking about to keep the troublemakers at bay. I don’t know.

But Jesus walks up to Matthew puts His money down, looks Him in the eye, and hears the voice of the of the Spirit with a message from the Father.

“Son, this one is one of mine. I have put an Apostolic call on his life. Draw him to Me.”

Was there more to their exchange than the “Follow me” that we get in scripture? We actually see this account in three of the gospels, and in each, that is all that we hear.

Next thing we know though, Matthew is at Jesus’ house with a number of his old friends, hanging out with Jesus.

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. - Matthew 9:10

I like the way Jesus does evangelism. [Tweet This]

Lord, help me see the calling in Your folks today, and help me to draw them to the Father too.

Ben NelsonHey – thanks for stopping by.

Walk with Jesus today.

Ben

3

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 ponder this story from the gospels of the four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, I am energized by what we can see clearly in Mark’s account.

And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven. ~ Mark 2:3-5

I really only want to pull two words out today: “their faith.”

Who “their?” you may ask.

As we noticed last week, the house was full of skeptics, and there was only one “who” in the stretcher, so that leaves the deconstruction team on the roof.

Jesus saw the faith, the expectation in these men. That expectation was clearly expressed by the lengths they were willing to go in order to get their friend to Jesus. They were willing to risk some real world trouble, and face some serious consequences in order to get their friend to Jesus.

This is so encouraging to me today.

For one thing, nothing is said about the one in the stretcher. When you have been sick or disabled for decades, it is pretty hard to stir up any expectation. You, as likely as not, will build up barriers against such expectations, and protect yourself against having hope spring only to be dashed once more.

But what I learn here is that we can bring our friends to Jesus.

I don’t want to build some magic doctrine that says everyone we pray for will be saved or healed.

But I will say this. We can bring our friend to Jesus.

We can do it with our words,
we can do it with our prayers,
we can do it with a posse,
you can do it in that chair.

We can bring our friends to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Why not do it right now? There is someone on your heart, someone who needs their sins forgiven, someone who needs their body mended. Perhaps there is a broken relationship the Spirit is highlighting.

Let’s bring our friends to Jesus today.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

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"

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

10

Today, let’s look at this encounter at the pool of Bethesda.

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

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 5:6-7

This is another wonderful story of Jesus and His ministry. And it certainly turned out to be a red letter day for the man at the pool, but I want to make an observation about how we guard our hearts, and can miss what the Lord is holding out to us.

Jesus asks a simple question. “Do you want to be made well?”

I wonder whether this man had not yet heard any of the stories of Jesus healing those who came to Him. Otherwise, why would he keep coming to this pool where his chances were slim.

In any case, observe with me how he answers Jesus.

  • He does not say, “If You are willing,” like the leper.
  • He does not say, “If you are able,” like the man at the bottom of the mount of Transfiguration.
  • He does not say, “If I can just touch His clothes,” like the woman with the issue of blood.
  • He does not say, “Just the crumbs from the table would do the trick,” like they Greek woman.
  • He does not say, “Yes Please,” my personal favorite.

He just begins to lay out reasons that it will never happen.

This is a defense mechanism many who have been struggling with the same issue for decades use. This man has probably been carried to every place miracles were reported.

After 38 years of infirmity, you might get tired of trying. You might still go to the pool, but you are not really expecting anything from the Lord.

You have done it all.

  • You have gone to the meetings when the healers came through town.
  • You have read every book on the subject of divine healing.
  • You have put your hand on the TV when the Televangelist prayed for the sick.
  • You sent your money in and received the “blessed” handkerchief in the mail.

So when Jesus shows up, rather than saying, “Yes Lord,” you begin to brace yourself for another disappointment.

I love that none of that stopped Jesus from breaking the power of the 38-year-old sickness.

I pray today that you have not given up. I pray you, yes I am talking to you, will hear the voice of Jesus asking, “Do you want to be made well?” And I pray you will not be afraid to simply say, “Yes Lord.”

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Have a Red Letter day.

Ben

 

Related article: Spiritual Healing by Keri Wyatt Kent

 

WaterPot
photo credit: MicheleLovesArt via photopin cc

Today is another Red Letter day! Do you feel it? Today, Jesus is talking about Waterpots! Well, He is to me anyway, and I want to share it with you.

Jesus said:

Fill the waterpots with water. ~ John 2:7

Too random?

You might be right.

Out of context?

I guess so.

But that is what jumped off the page, so let me just poke it and see if it moves.

Jesus is at a wedding and the host has run out of wine. His mom brings this to His attention, He resists, but mother knows best and simply tells the servers to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Now there is some good advice! Do whatever Jesus tells you.

He takes a look around and sees six waterpots, each of which would hold 20 or 30 gallons.

His instructions are simple. “Fill the waterpots with water,” and you know the rest of the story. One hundred twenty (or maybe one hundred eighty) gallons of the best wine.

The picture here is of our Father, the Master Potter, who formed you in your mother’s womb. He is about to repurpose you.

You were born a waterpot, but the Father is going to use you as a vessel for something much more potent than water. He want to fill you with Living Water – the Wine of the Spirit of God.

When the Father breathes the breath of life over these waterpots, they become vessels of honor.

  • They bring joy to all around them.
  • They solve the problems faced by their neighbors.
  • They change the atmosphere.
  • They extend the party.

God has taken the leaky bucket of your life, and refashioned you into a vessel, a carrier, a distribution center of the most precious and wonderful, the most powerful and life changing, the most transformational … awww, I can’t find the words.

He fills you with Himself, and makes Himself available to others through you. What a plan! [Tweet This]

Fill the waterpots with water!

Lord, fill me today, and help me to be a vessel of honor dispensing Your life to all around me.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

10

Don't Neglect the Infrastructure

Today, I have some random Red Letters for you because today is another Red Letter Day!

There are tons of folks out there who want to tell you that Jesus’ words are unreliable, that they can’t be trusted. Some of them are scholars who have spent decades researching ancient languages and documents. Others are those who use seemingly impenetrable arguments and logic to “prove” the Bible to be full of holes.

Jesus makes a statement in John 7 that helps me to understand who I should listen to.

If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. ~ John 7:17

Before you can believe anyone’s theology, you need to take a peek at their life. Jesus tells us that the only ones who can rightly judge Jesus’ doctrine are the ones who desire to do the will of the Father.

That word ‘will’ (the first one - thelō) means:

1)    to will, have in mind, intend

  1. to be resolved or determined, to purpose
  2. to desire, to wish
  3. to love

2)    to like to do a thing, be fond of doing

  1. to take delight in, have pleasure

(BlueLetterBible.org)

Do you see it? Only people who are trying to do the will of God have the right to judge the word of God. [Tweet This]

So next time someone tries to talk you out of something Jesus told you – check the fruit. If this is a person whose main desire is to do the will of God, who is striving to walk in the light, and bring light to all around – he might be a good source. But on the other hand, if he is casual about life in general, and careless about the will of God for his life – that is a bit suspect.

If he or she simply rejects Jesus altogether, your job then is to simply love them, pray for them, and preach the Word (Jesus) to them. Leave the rest up to Him.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether. ~ Songs of Songs 2:17

So here we are – the moment of truth.

Remember back to verse 8 the Shepherd King came to our maiden fair climbing through the mountains and leaping across the hills. He invited her to come out. He described the glory of the newly sprung spring, fragrances, sounds and colors, beauty on every side. He promised to keep her safe, to hide her from the danger, and expose her only to the wonder and glory.

Sadly her answer is "I am not quite ready."

She tell Him, her gazelle, her young stag, to turn, leave her there and head out to the mountains. You can come back home this evening and I will have dinner ready.

God’s design for our lives is to move from glory to glory. He has a path we can walk that will take us to new levels of intimacy, to grow in our relationship, in our reliance on Him. He does not however drag us kicking and screaming. There are always choices we can make.

He is calling her to drop her concerns about foxes and flocks and follow Him, to join Him in what He is doing. Come and climb the mountains, leaps among the hills with me.

Nevertheless she sends Him on ahead. “No, you go, I am not ready, I don’t have enough practice, I am not prepared, my garden is a mess, frankly, I am afraid.”

The excuses all boil down to that last bit, “I am afraid.”

What kind of excuses do you make when you are simply afraid to step out into something completely new and foreign to you?

Have you been in this place?

Let me be completely clear here. We are going to see, by the way Jesus deals with her here that this is not a huge “sin issue” in her life. She is not staying at home because she is lazy, or lusting after other things.

She is desperately in love with Jesus, and wants to step out, she simply can’t stir up enough courage to take the plunge. At this stage in her story, it is not that she is unsure who is calling her. She knows His voice, and she is not confused about what He is calling her to do.

When we come to these places there are a couple things we need to know.

  • Jesus does not react in anger toward her.
  • Jesus is not surprised.
  • Jesus does not love her any less.
  • Jesus does not punish her.
  • Jesus does not move on to someone else.

In fact we are going to see (it may take a couple sessions to get there – but we will) that Jesus is simply going to give her more reasons to trust and answer her fears until she is strong enough to go for it.

If you find yourself frustrated by your inability to say “Yes” to the Lord in some area,  and the opportunity has moved on, don’t despair! All is not lost. Yes, there was a better choice you could have made, but our Father is all about growing us, and growing our relationship with Him.

Is the Lord inviting you to step out into something new?

What are you going to do?

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in today.

See you again soon.

Ben

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