As we read Matthew 9, we find numerous accounts of Jesus healing people. One of the narratives describes Jesus visiting a synagogue leader’s home where a daughter “just died.” People were gathered around this home mourning. We read the crowd was noisy and the pipes were being played—this is something we all can imagine. Funeral music. Sorrowful moment. But then laughter?!?
When Jesus arrives on the scene, He tells everyone to stop the funeral. “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep,” He says (v. 24 NIV). The crowd laughs. No way. How can that be possible? Indeed, she is dead.
We get to see the story in context. We read often of the healings done by Jesus so it’s possible that we don’t get the reason for the laughter. Of course, Jesus is the great Healer. Why are you laughing? This chapter alone contains numerous stories of healing. But when we take a moment, when we evaluate our own lives, we laugh too. We have many “no way” moments. When the world is crashing down upon us and the Spirit speaks the Truth—we respond with a doubtful “no way.” When we look at the facts, when we see what is in front of us, we respond with the faith lacking “no way.”
Today, be reminded that our God is God of the impossible. He says “yes way” in response to our doubts. He says, “Take heart.” Remember what He says to the two blind men—“According to your faith let it be done to you” (v. 29 NIV). They believed the “yes way.” Friends, He knows your needs. He knows your heart. He knows your struggles. Have faith. Take heart. Yes way.
“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’” – Luke 18:27 [NIV]
Planning is important. The Bible tells us that before we start building something, we would certainly want to count the cost (Luke 14:28). Even so, planning is not everything. If you can only think up great ideas, but can never see them to completion, what good comes from the ideas?
In Proverbs, we read that good planning and hard work lead to prosperity. This means before we set out to do something, we should plan it out and use good discernment. When we have our game plan in place, then we should work hard to see it through. If we live this out, we will be prosperous.
Today, consider how you can be a better planner or how you can best follow through. Ask God to reveal any shortcuts you are attempting to take in life. Thank God for the opportunities He has provided to plan and work to glorify Him in everything.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5 [NLT]
I have always tried to be a reliable person, but I’ve failed like everyone does from time to time. We cannot always do what we desire to do in life. The Bible says for our yes to be yes, for our no to be no. This makes things very black and white. This is something that helps us to be a person of integrity. People see our consistency. People trust our reliability. We are a better witness to Christ Jesus when we let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Our word is trusted.
The Bible tells us that when we are given much, much is then required. We have a responsibility. It is not always an easy responsibility, but we can rest in these black and white boundaries. If we are a people who do our best to have our yes mean yes and our no mean no, we are not setting ourselves up for failure. We will be seen as someone with reliability. Our words and deeds will be more likely be trusted. We will glorify the Father more by the consistency in our lives.
Don’t grieve over your past failures. I have said “yes” many times and something came up that shook things up. Take time to respond with wisdom and truth when asked to serve in a new ministry. Will you have the time? Is this where God is leading you? With the responsibility you have been given, understand you will have to say yes to some things, and no to others. There is no allowance for a yes man in ministry. When you zero in and say yes to the things God is leading you to do, you will find that serving is a joy, and there will be fruit from the reliability of your word. Remember it is not the yes or the no that matters. It all comes down to giving God the glory He alone deserves. It all comes down to pointing to Him.
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” – Luke 12:48 [NLT]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
As I was walking the dogs, I noticed a car stopped halfway in a parking spot. At first, I had those dramatic scenes from the television shows flash through my mind. But after I shook all that off, I realized the man was being considerate. He had started to pull into his parking spot, but showed us some courtesy by stopping until the dogs moved along, so as to not frighten them.
When he parked the car, he let me know the reason he waited. Perhaps he read my mind when I was having those television flashbacks. I thanked him for the courtesy. He didn’t know that Max has major anxiety issues. What a blessing to be shown courtesy on our evening walk. At least once a week, Max experiences trauma because others aren’t very courteous.
In Luke, we read about doing to others as you would like them to do to you. We hear this quoted often (some call it the “Golden Rule”), but this is something that we don’t always see in action. Be reminded, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” These are the people who are called children of God. Be considerate. Show courtesy. Treat every person as valuable. Don’t look out for your own best interest and neglect others. Take an interest in them. Desire the best for them.
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [NLT]
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Luke 6:31 [NLT]
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
When Jesus called His disciples, it was interesting to see the interaction between Him and the disciples. Simon Peter was fishing with James and John. They fished all night and yet the Bible says that the “took nothing.” Nothing came from their fishing, despite them being experienced fisherman and diligently attempting to catch fish.
Jesus comes along and enters their boat and they go out a little from shore. He began teaching from their boat. Then Jesus tells them to let down their nets. They had a night full of no fish, yet we read that they say, “But at Your word I will let down the nets.” They obeyed Jesus and they hauled in so many fish that the net began to tear.
Imagine if you responded to Jesus with “at Your Word.” Imagine if every time the Spirit brought to memory the Word of God, you would say, “at Your Word.” Just imagine.
“And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.’” – Luke 5:5 [ESV]
We all have heard the phrase, “Bad things happen to good people.” Often it is said when we believe ourselves to be undeserving of what comes our way. Perhaps we are speaking about someone who we deem to be a “good person,” who gets handed a “raw deal,” and we think that should only be reserved for those who are “bad people.”
The truth is that there are no “good people,” so we cannot say that “bad things happen to good people.” In Romans, we read that there is no one righteous – no one who is good. We are all bad. We all fall short. Therefore, the only way this phrase is true is to say that bad things happen to people. We know that to be true. We live in a fallen world—a broken world. Even as we find ourselves following God’s leading, we will find “bad things” will happen. We are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised families will be torn apart (Luke 12:53).
Today, let us remember that bad things only happened to the One Who is Righteous. He suffered a lot of “bad things.” He carried all of our sins on the Cross. He did not deserve the wrath of God. He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15). But the “bad things” that happened to Him at Calvary were endured to the finish so that through Him we could be righteous, redeemed—that we, too, would follow Him to the Cross and the Resurrection to a new life—a life that will be all good when we are called home.
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” – Romans 3:10 [ESV]
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 [ESV]
Whenever I get to the pet store, I like to get a special treat for both of the pups. Today I decided I would get both of the dogs a large bone that I previously got for Max in the past. I always hesitated getting one for Marci because she is so small. It turned out that when I got Max one, Marci would take it and drag it all over the living room enjoying some chew time.
I quickly found out that when there are two bones, the dynamics change. All the sudden Marci, who was blessed to have this large bone for the first time, became a bit greedy. When she saw Max move away to lay down in one of his favorite spots, she took his bone and pulled it over to her bone. In doing so, she left him know that the bones were now both hers. Oddly enough, Max is insecure and Marci often gets the best of him. We found ourselves having to give Max his bone back and tell Marci to mind her manners.
The Bible speaks often of the sin of greed. John the Baptist said if you have two shirts, give one away. If you have food, share with those who are hungry. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing and so are we. We have a choice. We can choose to follow the teaching of the world, which points us to building castles here on earth and practice habits of greed. We can choose to live a life of generosity. When we open our hands, ceasing the ever-so-tight grip on the possessions of this world, we find that our open hands receive greater blessings and it is a pure joy to share as the Spirit leads. Bless someone today!
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’” – Luke 3:11 [NLT]