Why Bother?

We’re jumping back into Jairus’ story. You can read the first part here if you need to catch up.

The huge crowd that was surrounding Jesus and Jairus on their way to Jairus’ house had stopped because the woman with the issue of blood had just been healed (here). And Jesus was still talking with her when people from Jairus’ house came and gave him some devastating news.

They told him his daughter had died. And they told him there was no reason for Jesus to continue to be involved. It was over.

They said, “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Do you ever feel that way? Have you received any news lately that convinced you there’s no use bothering God about that anymore? It’s too late. It’s over. Done. It’s time to give up and update your prayer request for that situation.

Your dream is dead. That relationship is finished. Your career is no longer an option. You’ll never get ahead. You’ll never even catch up. You’ve made too many mistakes to be part of that ministry. You’ll never get well. That diagnosis is real and deadly.

I’m sure the people who came from Jairus’ house were friends. And I’m sure they meant well. They honestly couldn’t see how continuing to involve Jesus in the situation at this point would benefit anybody. They had no grid for Him being able to do anything now.

They knew what they had seen. A dead little girl. A heartbroken mother. A grieving family. And since they were his friends, they had the horrific duty to give Jairus the news. Then to bring him home and help him grieve.

Because that’s what friends do.

But listen to what Jesus is doing while this is going on.

In verse 36 the Amplified Bible says, “Overhearing but ignoring what they said . . . .”

I love that! Jesus hears the horrible news the friends bring, but ignores it and tells Jairus to not be afraid . . . “only keep on believing.”

What was Jesus asking Jairus to keep on believing? Back in verse 23, Jairus asked Jesus to come lay his hands on his daughter “so that she may be healed and live.”

It’s so easy to let go of our faith and give in to fear when bad news comes. We’re trusting Jesus to come through and we’re believing He’s with us on our way to our miracle. Then we’re blindsided by bad news and we feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. Fear takes over and our faith quickly fades.

That’s when we need to be reminded to keep on believing.

Jesus was reminding Jairus of the strong faith he had proclaimed just a little earlier that day. Jesus was letting Jairus know that it wasn’t time to give up. That there was still hope. That Jesus wasn’t finished with the situation yet.

What situation in your life have you been believing Jesus wants to heal . . . but right now looks like it’s dead?

What were you believing Jesus was going to do?

When did you expect Him to do it?

What news has made you doubt what you once believed?

Sometimes, in order to keep on believing, we have to ignore some of the news that’s out there. I’m not encouraging you to live in denial. I’m talking about believing what Jesus has told you He would do . . . even when everything you see and hear is screaming the opposite. Even when you’re encouraged by well-intentioned friends to believe what appears to be happening more than what Jesus tells you is happening.

There’s a famous quote that says, “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” (V. Raymond Edman)

If Jesus has promised you something . . . if you believe He wants to bring healing into a particular situation in your life . . . don’t forsake that faith you have in Him just because something that looks like the opposite appears on the scene.

The currency of the Kingdom of God is faith. And faith isn’t faith if you can see what you’re believing for. Faith is believing when you can’t see it. Even when things look the opposite of what God has told you will happen. Even when things look that way for a long time. Even when some of your good friends tell you it’s time to give up, to let go of hope, to settle for less than what God has promised you.

Sometimes we have to be like Jesus in this passage and ignore the bad news . . . and just keep on believing.

What bad news do you need to ignore today in order to continue to have faith that Jesus will do what He has promised you He will do?

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Mark 5:35-36 AMPC

35 While He was still speaking, there came some from the ruler’s house, who said [to Jairus], Your daughter has died. Why bother and distress the Teacher any further?

36 Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.

How Desperate Are You?

One of my favorite Jesus miracle stories is actually two of Jesus’ miracles combined into one story.

I prefer the way it’s presented in Mark 5, so that’s the scripture reference we’ll be using. Here are the introductory verses we’re discussing today.

Mark 5:21-24 (AMPC)

21 And when Jesus had recrossed in the boat to the other side, a great throng gathered about Him, and He was at the lakeshore.

22 Then one of the rulers of the synagogue came up, Jairus by name; and seeing Him, he prostrated himself at His feet

23 And begged Him earnestly, saying, My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be healed and live.

24 And Jesus went with him; and a great crowd kept following Him and pressed Him from all sides [so as almost to suffocate Him].

Jesus and his disciples have just landed after another trip across the lake. As soon as they got out of the boat, people started gathering around. Pretty soon a huge crowd surrounds Jesus while he’s still on the shore.

All of a sudden, a man pushes through the crowd and falls down on his face in front of Jesus.

The man’s name is Jairus. He’s one of the rulers of the local synagogue. While Jewish leaders like him weren’t typically big fans of Jesus, Jairus has a huge problem and he believes Jesus is the only one who can help him. So, at least for today, Jairus has set aside any political or religious issues he has with Jesus.

Jairus was probably well known in the community. And I have a feeling he had never fallen face down in the dirt in the middle of a crowd of people in his life. At least not on purpose.

But he does today.

And he does it at the feet of Jesus.

Jairus had heard the stories about Jesus healing people. And while he may have written them off as unfounded rumors last week, today he needs them to be true.

In fact, he’s desperate for them to be true.

Because Jairus’s little girl is dying.

She’s not just sick. She’s not just getting worse.

Today she is at the end of her life.

And Jairus doesn’t want his little girl to die, so he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her alive.

No matter what it costs him.

And being bold enough to ask Jesus for help in the middle of his hometown could potentially cost Jairus a lot.

It will cost him at least some of his pride. But it could possibly cost him his reputation, maybe even his role in the synagogue, his position in the community, or potentially relationships with some of his friends and family.

But today Jairus could not care less about any of that. Because today Jairus is desperate.

And when we get that desperate about a dire situation in our life, we pretty much lose the ability to care about anything else.

Today Jairus is putting all of his focus and all of the faith he can muster on his hope that the rumors about Jesus are true. That Jesus can actually heal people. That He really does have that kind of power.

So as soon as he hears that Jesus has landed in his town, he runs there, pushes his way through the crowd that’s already gathered, and prostrates himself at Jesus’ feet and asks Him to come heal his daughter.

How desperate would you have to be to do that? To push your way into a huge crowd of people in your hometown – maybe in your home church? To forget all about your reputation? To NOT care about how you look? About what people are going to think of you? About what they’re going to say?

What would it take for you to be so focused on Jesus . . . on what He can do for you and for those you love . . . that NOT ONE THOUGHT of what other people are going to think about you would even cross your mind as you fall at Jesus’ feet, telling Him that you believe He can and will do the impossible for you?

There are several things I can think of that I would be that desperate about. But I wonder if there should be more?

Because, instead of waiting until there’s a desperate situation in my life, how would things change if I recognized my complete dependence on Jesus every day of my life? If I took a few minutes every morning to bow before Him and declare that He IS my only hope . . . for life . . . for my next breath . . . for any semblance of sanity in this circus of a world we’re living in?

I wonder if I lived like that every day, how long would it take for my ego to subside? For my concern about my friends’ and family’s image of me to decline? For my self-focus to move out of focus and for Jesus to be the center of my field of vision wherever I go?

With all the faith he could muster in the only hope he could find, Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house and lay His hands on his daughter so she would be healed.

And Jesus didn’t hesitate. I can just see Him pulling Jairus up off the ground, giving him a big hug, helping him dust the dirt off his clothes, and telling him to lead the way.

And the crowd, even more excited now that a big miracle is brewing, went along for the ride.

This crowd was so big and so intent on being close to Jesus during the whole process that it was almost suffocating Him (verse 24 AMP).

They’re all walking as fast as they can, trying to get to Jairus’ house in time. Everyone’s bumping into each other. People are pushing their way through the crowd to try and get close to Jesus, or maybe to say an encouraging word to Jairus.

And then it all comes to a grinding halt.

And while I’m sure all Jairus can think is, Jesus, we need to hurry up, we’ve got to get there before my daughter dies . . . someone else in the crowd is suddenly ecstatic. Because her life was just radically changed.

That’s where we’ll pick up the story next time.

Are You Ready to Start Walking?

We’ve been talking about the miracle Jesus performed at the Pool of Bethesda and the lessons God showed me.

If you need to catch up, you can read the first post (Are You Stuck?) and the second post (How Do You See Yourself?).

In today’s post, we’re going to cover the Continue reading “Are You Ready to Start Walking?”

How Do You See Yourself?

Last week we started talking about the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda.

About getting too comfortable in our lack, hanging around people who are also focused on what they need, and waiting for someone else to come to the rescue.

Today’s part of the story shows what happens when Jesus confronts us  Continue reading “How Do You See Yourself?”

Old vs. New

Last week we talked about Jesus’s answer to John the Baptist’s disciples regarding fasting. And about how freeing Jesus’s answer was.

Today I want to look at Jesus’s comments after He answers that question.

Jesus starts talking about something that at first seems totally out of place. But, of course, it’s not.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:14-17

Jesus has just answered JTB’s disciples question about fasting. They were following the Jewish customs that had been handed down for centuries. Jesus was a Jew. In fact, He was the Son of God.

So you would think He would be very careful to follow all the Jewish customs.

But He wasn’t.

And what He says here is, I believe, the reason why.

Jesus talks about how you don’t use a piece of unshrunk cloth to patch an old garment (that has already been shrunk). If you do, the first time you wash it, the patch will shrink and pull away from the garment and it will be ruined.

Then He said you don’t put new wine in old wineskins. You put new wine in new wineskins so they can both expand. If you put new wine in an old wineskin, the wine will expand, but the wineskin has already expanded as far as it can go, so it will burst and the wine will be spilled.

I believe Jesus is talking here about the new covenant He’s bringing and how different it is from the old covenant that was still around at that time.

I believe He was saying that making His disciples keep all the Jewish customs (like fasting) at this particular time did not fit in with the new covenant He was ushering in.

In fact, trying to force the old structure around the essence of the new covenant would be disastrous. And combining the two covenants could create two different scenarios.

In one scenario, the new covenant would pull away from the old (like the cloth example), because it didn’t belong, it didn’t ‘fit.’

The other scenario would be like putting new wine in an old wineskin. The old wineskin (the Jewish religion structure of laws and rules and ancient customs) could never contain the new wine (the new covenant of love and mercy and grace). The old covenant had already gone as far as it could go. It couldn’t go any further. It couldn’t do any more than it already had.

Another way to look at it is the old covenant worked from the outside in. In other words, you had a list of things you did and things you didn’t do and that external structure was fairly easy to see—although not always so easy to do.

The new covenant Jesus brought does just the opposite. It works from the inside out. It can’t be seen until it has affected the believer’s behavior. So this requires an entirely different structure, a totally new paradigm.

And Jesus is saying that if you cling to the old structure of rules and regulations—and try to force that structure on people learning to follow the new covenant—you’re going to lose the new wine and the old wineskins. Because they just don’t ‘fit.’

It was time for a transition—the passing of the old and the entering of the new.

It was a total change in the way people relate to God—a change to a personal, intimate, individual relationship between each of us and our Creator.

And Jesus came to earth to show us how it’s done.

And to pay the high cost to make it accessible to us.

Thank you, Lord.

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What old structures are you hanging on to?

What new wine is that preventing you from experiencing?

Focused and Free

There are two major takeaways from the next section of Matthew 9 that I want to share. I’ll share the first one today and the other one next week.

The first is from the first two verses:

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. – Matthew 9:14-15

John’s disciples (as in John the Baptist, JTB) came to Jesus with a question. The question was why they and the Pharisees fasted frequently (for religious purposes) but Jesus and His disciples never fasted.

And Jesus’s answer to them is my first takeaway. And it’s something I really needed to hear right now.

In my current life situation, I am involved in a project with several incredible Christian believers. These are people I want to be like when I grow up! Seriously. After spending time with them, I feel so honored and so blessed.

And sometimes later on I start feeling not so blessed. Because I try to go after the things some of them are doing – and I can’t do it all. I want to be like them in their area of strength, but I can’t. It just doesn’t ‘fit’ right now. And it may never.

And that’s why Jesus’s answer gives me freedom. In essence, what I think Jesus is saying is that at the exact same moment in time, it was okay for JTB’s disciples and the Pharisees to be fasting and for Jesus’s disciples to NOT be fasting.

How freeing is that?!? We’re all different. And we’re all in different places. And it’s okay. Jesus meets us where we are and we need to trust Him to take us where He wants us to go . . . when He wants us to go there.

Whew. So just because my good friend is spending hours a day praying and fasting, I don’t have to feel guilty because that’s not where God has me right now.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say His disciples would never fast again. In fact, He said they would. So it doesn’t mean I won’t go after some of the things my friends are so good at—but it’s just not for me right now. I have other things He wants me to focus on.

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Whose gifts are you trying to adopt into your life?

What does God want you focused on instead?

Here’s the second takeaway.

2016 Challenge

We’re back in Matthew 9. Today’s passage is about the calling of Matthew.

 

Jesus saw Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. He told Matthew to follow Him and Matthew did.

 

The next scene shows Jesus and his disciples having dinner with Matthew and his friends at Matthew’s house. Matthew’s friends are fellow tax collectors and “sinners” – or as the Amplified Version calls them: “especially wicked” sinners.

 

I’m not sure what that means exactly, but Jesus apparently didn’t even blink an eye at it. He didn’t have a problem having dinner with sinners—of any description.

 

But the Pharisees sure did! They had a big problem with Jesus having dinner with tax collectors and sinners.

 

But, like most troublemakers, the Pharisees didn’t go to the source with their question. Instead they chose to ask Jesus’s disciples why he was eating with tax collectors and those “especially wicked” sinners.

 

Jesus heard their question and answered it Himself. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Which He may have followed up quickly with one more syllable: “DUH!”

 

And then He insulted the Pharisees’ knowledge of the scriptures. He said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

The Pharisees knew that verse from Hosea 6:6 as well as Jesus did.

 

Well . . . they had read it anyway . . . at some point in time.

 

But apparently they didn’t know what it meant.

 

Let’s take a look at the verse He’s quoting: Hosea 6:6 (AMP).

 

For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.”

 

Here’s what I think Jesus is telling these religious leaders (and us by default).

 

I think he was telling them that if they REALLY knew the scriptures, they would know that what God wants is people who are loving and good—not just religious people who are more concerned with following every sacrifice ritual. And that He desires people whose focus is getting to KNOW HIM—not just pious posers fixated on following the letter of the law and not missing one burnt offering.

 

I don’t think God’s wants have changed. I believe He still wants people who do what it takes to get to KNOW HIM and, because of the time they spend with Him, they’ll be more loving and good than the super religious people with their perfect church attendance certificates.

 

 

I challenge all of us to be more concerned with getting to KNOW GOD in 2016 than we are with doing any religious act that will make us APPEAR more pious to other people. And let’s be the loving and good people that God wants rather than people who are known by the world to be church-y or religious.

 

 

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Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Preparing for 2016

This is possibly my favorite week of the year. I love taking a break, reviewing the previous year and praying for and planning for the New Year.

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve read several blog posts and Facebook posts that have shared questions to ask during this reflective time.

 

So I decided to do the same thing. Here are the questions I’m asking myself this week. You may want to take some time and do the same.

 

  1. What was the best decision you made in 2015? What criteria did you use to make it? How will that help you make decisions more confidently in 2016?
  2. What was your biggest accomplishment in 2015? What lessons did you learn in the process? How will you use those lessons to make 2016 a more successful year?
  3. What was the most influential book/blog you read in 2015? What was the biggest paradigm shift it created for you? How are you going to use it to restructure your life in 2016?
  4. What was the biggest answer to prayer you received in 2015? How did it change your perspective of and relationship with God? As a result, how is your prayer life going to change in 2016?

 

I highly recommend taking a few hours this week to answer these questions or at least to review 2015 and plan and pray for 2016.

 

And I pray you and I will all have an extremely blessed and favor-full 2016.

 

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. – Jeremiah 29:11 (AMPC)