But I follow after…

Everyone has some burden to bear, and although, at times, I could rhyme off a list of things that cause me grief, this is not where I am on this blessed, snowy day. Rather, what I would like to focus on is that singular thing in our lives – the thorn in our side perspective, if I may — that has discouraged us from fully reaching the potential the Lord purposed in our hearts whilst we were still in our mother’s womb. The one marker – whether internal or external, real or perceived, evident to others, or not — that too often keeps us from reaching the level of perfection that apostle Paul speaks about, when writing to believers in Philippi. Therein, Paul (seemingly from prison) writes:
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect … but I follow after [press onward] [so] that I may apprehend [lay hold of] that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth [moving forward] unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you …” (Philippians 3:12-15)
Admittedly, laying hold and reaching forward toward our high calling of God in Christ Jesus may be a foreign concept in this modern age of selfies, but nevertheless, most of us recognize there are times when our inner self wants to shout out to one and all, letting the whole world know we exist and have validity, only to be held back some “external” barrier or “self-imposed” blockade.

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As I glanced through the latest round of emails to cross my desk, one message stood out. The writer spoke of the woman whose daughter had a demon, and had followed Jesus to the point whereby even His disciples had become weary of her cries. Here was a woman standing in the gap of life for her daughter, and she was not taking no for an answer. Matthew explains the context this way:

“Then Jesus went thence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried unto Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, [Thou] Son of David! My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the sheep of the house of Israel.”

Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not meet [good] to take the children’s bread and cast [it] to dogs.” And she said, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it unto you even as thou wilt.”  And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:31-37) Continue reading

Jesus Wept

My hubby and I spend considerable time witnessing to people about the goodness and mercy of the Lord Jesus in our lives. Most of the time, the strangers we meet give us time to present our case before moving on. Sometimes, the reaction is not so nice, and in those cases we move on. As you can imagine, preaching on the streets is easier when you don’t know the person you are speaking with.

But we don’t just share the gospel with strangers. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is our life, and thus, we also speak about the goodness of Jesus to our family and friends. Herein, lies the crux of the matter. These people come with a conclusion of who we are from a history of dealings with both them and hearing from others who know us equally as well. As one can imagine, it is difficult to hide the “real you” from these folks. Continue reading

The Critical Link …

The Critical Link
By Regular Contributor Janice

Our Christian faith was never intended to be something separate from our every day lives. Rather, faith in Jesus is the critical link that provides believers today with the necessary understanding to experience and interpret life. We see this in the book of Mark chapter 8. Here, the crowds had been gathered around Jesus for three days with nothing to eat. Jesus knew that if He sent them home, some of the people might not make it because of their physical hunger. They might faint. But Jesus’ disciples thinking only from a physical perspective asked, “How can one feed these men with [only] bread here in the desert?” After all, altogether there are only 7 loaves and a few small fishes to be had, hardly enough pickings to feed 4,000.

The disciples’ question is often similar to our own lives when things start piling up against us with no immediate resolution in sight. Here were the disciples in the same situation, wondering with their “earthly” world view how Jesus intended to satisfy the crowd’s physical hunger. What the disciples didn’t comprehend is that Jesus understood the people’s “spiritual” hunger. That for three days straight the crowds had lingered for more of Jesus’ teachings and parables. More of Jesus’ miracles and healings. More of Jesus!

Just like Jesus already knew the heart of the Greek woman, a Syrophoenician by birth whose daughter had a demon. She begged Jesus to help. Jesus said in Mark 7:27-29, “Let the children first be fed for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But the woman answered Jesus saying, “Yes Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

The mother’s request was for a physical healing but like the crowd of 4,000, this woman had a spiritual hunger – an ultimate faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter’s sickness. She wasn’t about to leave unsatisfied. Jesus saw the desire of the mother’s heart and the daughter was healed. Like the crowd who for 3 days wanted more of Jesus. More of Jesus in spite of the physical.

There was a lesson being taught here. It was what teachers today call a teaching moment – a revelation. That is, when Jesus took the 7 loaves and few small fishes and gave thanks over them, the food multiplied to the point that the crowd ate and were satisfied. Full. When the meal was finished and the broken pieces of food collected, there were seven baskets in total. More than the crowd started with. Imagine what the disciples thought then.

This is why our faith in Jesus is integral to who we are. Because Jesus sees and knows the very desires of our heart. He wants to bless us with His abundance — just like the mother who wouldn’t settle for a physical response — just like the crowds who wanted more of Jesus in spite of the physical. As Christians, this is what faith is about — when it becomes intertwined with our very being. Therefore, faith is not intended to be separate – put on the shelf until we need it – but intertwined in every aspect of our walk with our Lord and Saviour. The disciples needed to learn this lesson and many times so do we. Take hold of Jesus today and don’t let go for He never fails! Never …

“Who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have  from ancient time? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside me, a just God and a Saviour — there is none beside Me. Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:21-22)