Desperate Faith

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Caleb Beller.

Luke 8:46, Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Often we feel our problems may be too personal, small or persistent to change. We feel like Jesus should just walk by. ‘It will never get better’. ‘He won’t care’. These lies often paralyze us in our brokenness. This woman was desperate. Luke tells us that for 12-years she struggled with this intimate and debilitating condition. She spent and tried everything with no relief.

That day something was different, Jesus was close. She dared not stop Him as He was on His way to do something much more important (She felt). I won’t bother Him with all the details, but If I can just touch his robe!  Maybe she felt she was too impure to touch Him, desperately she thought if I can just get close enough to touch his robe. “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Had she kept her hands to herself, or given into fear instead of faith, she never would have heard those beautiful words.  Are you desperate for a touch of Jesus? Maybe it’s time to press through the chaos and confusion and touch Him! We need to stop waiting, worrying, and wishing, and mobilize our faith. His presence is near today, we the church are His hands and feet. Do you need to reach out to another believer today? Is someone reaching out to you? May we have the faith to reach out and the faith to respond with the Love of Jesus. His power is present to heal today, through you or for you!

Peace Offering

Family Saying Grace at Thanksgiving Dinner — Image by © Larry Williams/CORBIS

Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the Lord. (Leviticus 3:3)

One of the Old Testament sacrifices was known as the “peace offering” or “fellowship offering”.  The Hebrew name is related to shalom, the word for “peace”.  It would seem to indicate that this sacrifice was declaring that you are at “peace” with God.  It was a way of expressing “thanks” to God.

The sacrifice involved an unblemished animal, because you don’t give God your second-hand castoffs. Unlike some sacrifices, this one was accompanied by a meal.  God got a serving, the priest got a serving, and the rest was eaten by your family.  It was like the best Thanksgiving Dinner but with a spot for God at your table.  Somebody pass the potatoes! That’s “fellowship” in the best of terms.

The New Testament brought a change in the sacrifices when Jesus died once for all, as the ultimate sacrifice.  But there is still something we can give. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15)

Have you found peace with God through Jesus Christ?  Then consider spending time with God.  Invite your family and friends and together give God thanks.  Give Him the best of thanks.

Done

And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. (Exodus 29:7)

The Bible teaches that all believers are “priests” to God (Rev. 1:6).  A priest is one who does things to serve God and others.  We often think of ministry as being all about what we are “doing”, but ministry starts with what’s been “done” to you.

Before Aaron and his sons could serve as priests, they were to go through a “consecration” ceremony. The ceremony involved sacrifices that not only committed them to God but paid for their sins.  The sacrifice was personal – the animal’s blood was put on the priest’s earlobe, thumb, and big toe.  It’s as if they were being cleansed in their mind (earlobe), their actions (thumb), and where they went (big toe).   The use of the scented anointing oil was symbolic of the Holy Spirit being on the priest’s life, giving his life a new fragrance as evidence of God’s work in his life.

Believers, God has called you to serve.  Before you get busy “doing” things, make sure that you’ve received the things that God wants “done” in your life.  God wants you to walk clean and forgiven.  God wants you to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s when we serve from a place of being cleansed and empowered that we are most useful to God.  Start with what’s been “done”.

When Pigs Fly

…who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, (Mark 5:3)

He had the most hopeless of lives. Possessed by demonic spirits, his life was in ruins. He lived far from society in the graveyard. People tried to control his behavior by putting him in chains, but even chains couldn’t stop his wild behavior. All day and night he’d wander among the tombs, wildly howling, and cutting himself with sharp stones.

All that changed the day that Jesus came.

With a few simple words, Jesus cast the demons out of the man.  The demons entered a herd of pigs, which in turn went crazy and flew off a cliff, drowning in the lake. The man was forever changed.

What seems impossible to us is possible with Jesus.  People that we think are beyond help can be changed by an encounter with Jesus.  Hopeless situations in my life can turn around with just a word from His mouth.

Sometimes, I’m a little too accustomed to the way things are.  I think that since I am powerless to alter a situation, it’s simply hopeless.  I think, “That will change when pigs fly.”  Yet I have a God who can make pigs fly.  Don’t quit.  Bring Jesus into the situation. See what He does.  Lord, we have no help apart from You.

Changes

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:8)

The story of Joseph is an amazing tale of God’s providence, grace, and power to save.  Not only did God use Joseph to save his own family from a coming famine, Joseph saved the nation of Egypt as well.  Those must have been wonderful days to have seen God’s hand at work and see how God turned bad things to good.

But time marches on.  “Good ‘ol days” don’t last.  Old leaders like Joseph eventually die off and are succeeded by the next generation.  Then a king arises in Egypt who doesn’t have a clue about Joseph, what he did for Egypt, nor the value of Joseph’s people.  For the children of Israel, the changes they were facing were terrible.  They would become slaves and be mistreated, until the day Moses rose up to save them.

I hate to be the one to remind you, but change is coming.  Everything changes.  Time marches on.  Sometimes the changes are for the better (like Moses coming), and sometimes the changes are difficult (slavery).

Are you ready for changes to come?  Do you have your feet planted on the Rock?  You can be destroyed by change, or you can adapt and thrive.  Which will it be?  Blessed are the flexible.

It Ain’t Over

Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. (Genesis 37:24)

Talk about a dysfunctional family.  Joseph was born into a family where his dad had four wives, and they all lived together.  He had two older brothers who killed all the men of an entire town.  And you’re telling me your family has problems?  Joseph’s life continued to get worse and worse.  His brothers plotted to kill him, then decided to sell him as a slave to be taken to Egypt.  From being a slave, Joseph would find himself in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  How in the world did Joseph keep on going?

Joseph had a promise from God.  He had been given dreams about his future, and since those things hadn’t come to pass, Joseph trusted God, and God was with Joseph.  At any time in his teens or into his twenties, Joseph could have just given up, but he didn’t. His story wasn’t over yet.

Beloved, your story isn’t over yet either.  You may be facing difficulties that you feel you didn’t sign up for.  You may not understand why life is so hard right now.  Yet like Joseph, your story ain’t over.  You too have a God who has plans for you.  You have a God who is with you.  Trust Him to take you through the entire story of your life.

Blessing in Disguise

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Caleb Beller…..

“Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which [were] with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.” (Gen 27:15-16)

As Jacob covered his neck and limbs trying to emulate his brother Esau, it is hard not to have mixed emotions. Was Jacob trying to do the right thing the wrong way? As I turned the moral “Rubik’s-cube”, something caught my attention.

There is an interesting New Testament parallel with this story. As Jacob covered himself in the identity of Esau, his father blessed him as the firstborn. When we are covered in Christ we also become heirs to the blessing of the firstborn. The Father blesses us as if we were Jesus!

These verses from Rom 13:1, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:24, and Col 3:10 exhort us to put on Christ. Unlike Jacob, we seek the blessing in the light of His promise. Romans says that we are now His children and co-heirs with Christ.

Have we covered ourselves with Christ and embraced the privileges of the firstborn? Jacob fulfilled the prophecy given before his birth that the older would serve the younger (Gen 25:23). May we walk in the fullness of our inheritance. Clothe ourselves in Jesus, and in faith pursue the blessings He has promised in His Word.

Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:43–44)

Sometimes I think human nature tends toward conflict with others.  Though I might half-heartedly complain, “Why can’t we all just get along?” that doesn’t stop me from getting angry and upset when someone comes along and upsets my little apple cart.

I wonder if some of us hide from Jesus’ difficult words about loving our enemies by simply declaring that we don’t have any enemies.  Still, if you’re honest with yourself, there are people that rub you the wrong way.  There are people that cause you trouble.  There are people who break your heart.

So how do I “love” them when I don’t particularly like them?  Start by returning their “curses” with your “blessings”.  Jesus said we ought to work at doing good things for them. He also said we ought to pray for them.  I find that when I’m praying humbly and honestly for someone over a period of time, my heart tends to melt towards them.  Even though I don’t feel like doing good things for them, the act of doing good draws out the love that needs to be there.  Live dangerously.  Love your enemies.

Fight the Power

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Dan Looney:

When I was a child, the “Power” was my parents. They had control of me, and I trusted them. I would fight them over things like bed time and vegetables, but they would win in the end (most of the time).

As an adolescent, the “Power” became something different. It became “The Man” (the police, the government, or whoever was stopping or hindering us from doing whatever we wanted). We were young, worldly men and woman struggling against worldly authority.

When I became a man and a father, things changed. I started eating my vegetables and going to bed on time (most of the time). I began to see selfishness and sin as corrupting powers in the world.

When I became a Christian, I realized that the “Fight” is not my fight at all, it belongs to Jesus. The “Power” is not “The Man”, it is Satan. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” 1Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Brethren, our selfishness and sin nature make us vulnerable to Satan’s influence in this world. Our path is not to “Fight the Power” but to apply Truth to power. Trust Jesus, the Truth.

1Cor 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. but when I grew up, I put away childish things.” Eph 2:2, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience”

A Good Name

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “What if I just had a little more money”?  Sometimes I’m not even daydreaming about a little more money, but a LOT more money.  Of course, I tell myself about all the good I would do with all that loot.

Solomon was a man who had experienced what it was like to have all the money he ever needed.  Solomon warned that having a “good name” was better than having money.

Having a good name implies that I am a person who is known for being “good”.  Doing the right thing, doing things with integrity, doing things with wisdom, these are not common qualities in the world today.  They are also not easy qualities to come by.

I think I’d also like to be known as a loving person.  I’d like for people to say, “He’s quite a loving guy”.  Why is that important to me?  Jesus said that all men would know I am His disciple if I have love for others (Jn. 13:35).  Come to think of it, the “good name” I’d like most to be known for above all is the name of Jesus.  I’d like for folks at my funeral to say, “My how he loved Jesus”.

Here we are in the season of “stuff”. Is there something better than “stuff”? How about a good name?