How We Get Stronger

dspotting

I am a personal fitness trainer and strength coach.  Clients come to my gym to lose weight and get stronger.  Some may think it will happen just by coming in.  Some may think they will get results by doing just enough.  Some may think there is some magic trick that only the trainers know.  These people often don’t last long.  They don’t understand that in order to get stronger you have to lift things that you haven’t lifted before.  In order to get results you have to be challenged.  Many trainers have used this great saying “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”  So in order to get stronger you need to lift heavier weights. I look at faith in a similar way.  If there are not challenges in your life how can your faith grow? How can your faith increase?  If things continue on in a nice status quo manner is anything making you stronger spiritually?

So we pray for our faith to be increased.  This is one of the best things to pray for.  Just be ready and understand what that may mean.  Understand that in order to increase your faith, it may be challenged.  This should not discourage you from praying that prayer. In fact, let it encourage you knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I wrote a post a few months ago about faith being a gift from God.  For Him to increase our faith is a huge gift. It comes with many blessings.  But like I stated, it may come with trials.  Persevering through those trials is what we need to do .

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

The enemy will try to attack. He will come at you and tell you to give up.  He will come and tell you to run away from your faith and not to trust anyone.  He will show you the dangers that having faith will bring.  But much like lifting a heavy weight and being under the barbell when you are on the bench, you know when you lift that weight you will become stronger. You know that you have a spotter, a coach, a Lord and Savior named Jesus Christ, who will be with you as you press that bar of trial off of your chest and high to the sky.  Then you pray for more faith and put some more weight on that bar.

Remember this too, Jesus won’t give you what you can already handle.  No! He is looking to get you stronger. Prepare for more than you think you will get.  Why? Because He is there with you.

Let’s take a look at Peter. Here is a man who was out fishing.  Jesus said to him “follow me” and He did.  Throughout each Gospel story Peter is asking many questions.  Even after just following Him without asking why at that moment.  Even after walking on water.  When Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought He was, Peter gave an answer.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  Matthew 16:15-18 peter

This answer that Peter gave was of faith.  Jesus even told Him this faith was given to him by God and not man.  He then called him a rock and said on this confession of Him as the Christ the church will be built.

Something I find interesting about Peter was even after these miraculous things, his faith was tested even more.  Tested to the point of him denying to know Jesus even after he told Jesus he would not.  Even after this Jesus still loved him.   He was not done with him.

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16:7

Peter went on to do many great things in the face of persecution.  He preached, healed, raised to life, all by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyday his faith must have been challenged and everyday his faith must have grown.  In fact he wrote:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter  1:3-9

I can pick several people in scripture who faced trials and tribulation, all the while their faith increased.  God could have just left them alone.  He could have turned His face from them.  He can turn His face from us.  But He loved them and loves us.  He blessed them and he blesses us.  He sent His Son to die on the cross just so we can be with Him.  We are sinners who deserve death but we get life, freedom, grace, mercy, love, and faith.

There are many promises in the bible.  One way I know it is true is because we are promised tribulation.  We see that everyday.  But we also see hope.  We believe in hope because after three days in the grave our Savior rose from the dead. He is alive and in every believer.  He can raise our broken spirits back from the dead.  He can raise our broken relationships back from the dead.  He will leave the 99 sheep to get the one. He will welcome you home meeting you on the road as He sees you in the distance.

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Your faith may be under the bar right now.  The weight may be more than you can handle.  Stop trying to lift that bar alone.  Those hand that are helping you lift it have wrists that have been pierced so you can know you are not alone under that bar.  I might have a day where I miss the spot and the bar crushes you.  Man will fail.  God will not.  Sometimes He will just spot you with 2 fingers instead of pulling the bar off quick.

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I pray that if you are reading this and don’t know the Savior I speak of, that you desire to know Him.  I pray He is at work in your heart right now.  I pray that you get on your knees and talk to God.  Ask Him to show Himself to you.  Tell Him what you are feeling.  Tell Him what you want.  Ask Him to give you faith, and if you have it, ask Him to increase it.  If you are under the heavy barbell press hard.  Jesus is with you. A funny thing about faith, it really doesn’t take much for miracles to happen.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.  Luke 17:5-6

increase faith

Let’s GO!

Go

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

There it is.  The great commission.  This is what I am wrestling with right now.  What does this look like?  How, in this American culture, does making disciples of Jesus Christ happen?  Am I doing it now?

Lately I feel restless.  I read Scripture and think about how Jesus walked around and went to people.  He made himself accessible.  He didn’t just have a Sunday morning meeting.  He didn’t just go to the temple.  He walked around town.  He got in a boat and went across the river.  He went to places where even his apostles didn’t want to go.  He talked to people who were not looked at as people who a Holy person should talk to.  He ate with tax collectors. He ate with prostitutes.  He healed people who were considered “dogs” by many.  He asked questions.

Is that what I am doing?  Am I being salt and light to the world by more than Facebook posts and writing a blog?  Am I really showing I love the Lord by really loving my neighbor?  Is my faith being shown by my works?

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  James 2:18

The more I read Scripture the more I feel convicted on all fronts.  This is not in a bad way.  It is not a guilty feeling.  It is a feeling of longing.  It is a feeling of longing to be more like Christ.  To live a sacrificial life.

As I write this I realize it may be the sin of pride I am fighting with.  I sit and sometimes think of the church in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian.  I think of how there are places where, if you have a Bible, you can be killed.  I think of Paul and other Apostles and disciples who were beaten, put in prison, and killed for going out and proclaiming the Good News.

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Act 16:22-24

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In a contrasting situation, I sit here writing a blog free from that persecution.  I live in a country where yes, sometimes Christian views are not popular, but we get to express them in many ways.  While that freedom may be threatened one day, I still have that gift.  Instead of feeling like I am not sacrificing enough because I am not persecuted, I should take advantage of the Grace and Blessing God has given me by being in this country.

If you are restless out there, let’s get bold.  Let’s be the body of Christ.  Let’s be the Church and not just go to church.  Let’s take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ everyday.  Let’s make a difference where we live so the light of Christ can be seen so that people want to be a part of the body.  Let’s be salt so people seek the living water of Christ.  Let’s build each other up so we are prepared to accept the great commission.  Let’s speak the Truth in Love to each other so we can grow up in Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  Ephesians 4:14-16

I need to be held accountable.  The commission needs to be taken seriously.

We need to GO!

If you are not a believer and are reading this blog for the first time I pray the Holy Spirit works in your heart and you know Jesus.  I pray He saves you and you are born again.  I pray you know He died on the cross for you.  I pray you can trust Him and that, because He died on the cross, if you repent and confess He is Lord, you are forgiven and you don’t have to be a slave to your sins.  You are free in Jesus Christ.  I pray that you believe.  I pray in the Awesome name of Jesus Christ.

Seeking Spirits

Photo by Charles Kozierok

This post is not like my last few. This may come off as if I am being legalistic. That is not my intention.  I am writing this to bring to light what the Bible says to believers.  I am writing this so that the believer may be aware that what the world may say is ok to do God has said otherwise.  I am also writing because I used to take part in these activities before I was saved.

Many of you are familiar with the big craze for ghost hunting.  This is something I was interested in and actually did a few years ago.  The other day on Facebook I saw that the old team I used to be part of posted a question dealing with our fate and what could spirits possibly be.  I answered with what the Bible says.  I said that if you are a believer that you should not be dabbling in the occult and searching for ghosts. This is forbidden in Scripture.

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.  Deuteronomy 18:10-12

There are some who do these ghost hunts who say they are Christians. They may very well be but they do not understand scripture or they have not read.  There are a few passages that warn us not to communicate with the dead.  We are commanded to not consult with mediums or psychics or any other forms of the occult.  I believe that these people, like mediums, are communicating with spirits.  These spirits are not the loved ones we hope to contact.  The bible is clear that after we die we either go with the Lord for eternity, or go away from the Lord for eternity.  Then who are these mediums talking to?  They are talking to demonic spirits. They are talking to spirits under the control of satan.  They are being deceived.

When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Isaiah 8:19

So why do people chase ghosts, consult mediums, talk to psychics? I believe they are looking for answers.  In fact, that is how one of the ghost hunters I know answered my question of why do you do this.  He said they do it to help people and to find answers.  Perhaps they are looking into the wrong place for the answers.  While they may be helping people, they are also misleading them.  They are falsely confirming the supernatural and leading people away from the God of the Bible.

One of the ghost hunters said that after their findings they encourage people to go to church.  There is nothing wrong with that as long as they go to a bible believing church.  Something the evil one likes is when someone believes they are in a relationship with God when they really aren’t.  The evil one is a master of deception and when he gets you to believe you are talking to past loved ones or a nice spirit who is stuck between worlds he enjoys it.  When you believe his lie, it takes you away from the Truth.  The truth is Jesus Christ.  The way is Jesus Christ. The life is Jesus Christ.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

In my research on this topic I came upon a former ghost hunter who came back to her Christian roots.  She was raised Christian and departed from the faith for a bit to get more into the occult. As her experience in the occult and witch craft began to grow, she felt there was still something missing and started to bring her Christian faith to her witch craft and called herself a Christian witch.  Her testimony is amazing and you should check it out here. http://kristinemcguire.com/  Something happened on her last investigation that made her realize what it was she was dealing with.  I do not want to tell the story here because I can not do it justice.  Please check out her website and read as well as listen for yourself.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are spirits that may seem intriguing to explore but I urge you to read and study scripture.  Pray for God to reveal His truth to you.  Do not be deceived by this world, for the evil one is the prince of this world.  The occult, including witch craft, mediums, psychics, ghost hunting, and even alien hunting, are not to be sought.  The bible says they are not of God but of the deception of the evil one.  If you believe, then believe it all.  It is the Word of God.  It is His Truth.  Do not depart from it.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

If you don’t know Jesus, I pray you ask Him into your heart. I pray the Holy Spirit softens your heart so that the answers you are looking for are found in the only place they can be.  I pray you find them in Jesus Christ who was crucified on the cross for our sins so we can be with Him in heaven when we leave this world.

Don’t hunt evil spirits, but be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Defend a Lion?

As Christians, we are sometimes asked to defend why we believe what we believe.  Many point to their upbringing.  Some point to experience.  Others say “because the Bible says so.”  This doesn’t really help us explain our faith.  Should we have to?  According to Scripture, yes we should.  We should be able to give a defense for our faith.

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:14-16

Roughly 75% of America claims to be Christian.  You might be thinking with that large percentage as Christians who are we defending against in the USA?  Well, Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.   He did not say “just make sure the majority knows who I am.”

We must be prepared to give a defense for our faith.  Sometimes this may even be to a person claiming they are Christian or to a Christian who is reborn and has questions.  This is why it is not only important we read the Bible, but that we also study it.  We must seek what God is telling us in His Word.  We can use other tools such as commentary, concordance, and study groups.  There is so much depth to God’s Word that it requires more than a glance.  It requires more than a one time read.  It is designed by God to be a living, breathing, Word that holds truth.  It is spiritual food.  As a believer we must eat it up. Even Jesus read and quoted Scripture.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

The One, who we follow as Christians, read and studied the Word of God.  As followers, we should too.  It should not be a chore.  Do not do it because you think it will get you points with God.  It won’t.  God looks at your heart.  Reading the Bible, for believers, is something that should come over you like drinking water.  When you get thirsty you drink.  You need to drink everyday to survive.

Being in the Word allows you to know how we are to live.  How we are to be salt and light.  As we read it, it reflects the standard of God and we see how we really are.  This is why it rubs people the wrong way when they read it and don’t understand.  It shows us our true reflection.  I once heard a pastor talk about how some people argue that they are good people and don’t murder or anything like that.  The pastor compared that to looking at your reflection in muddy water and saying you look ok.  But when you look in a clear pool of water you see how you really are.  That is what reading and studying the Bible does.  It shows us we are sinners in need of a Savior.  We need Jesus.

What does this have to do with defending our faith?  Some opposition will attack the Bible with different arguments.  Some will call it outdated.  Others will say it is sexist, racist, and demeaning.  They will say the God of the Bible is mean and doesn’t really value people.  People will tell you that the Bible has contradictions.  (By the way, this is all stuff I used to say before I was saved.)  Being able to answer these and other arguments, is something you may have to do.  Will you have all the answers?  Probably not.  I sure don’t but I welcome the questions.  It allows me to study deeper and find these answers.  More importantly, it allows me to keep engaging someone in the conversation, and with gentleness and reverence, share the Gospel of Jesus.

One of the best apologetics ( a field of Christian theology which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections) you can have is your life.  The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.”  Be salt and light.  Live the Gospel in your life.  Allow the Holy Spirit to have every aspect.  Show kindness and gentleness to all people.  This does not mean conform to their ways, but be understanding of their lifestyle and share the Truth with them.

I recently got into a discussion with an atheist whose videos I found on youtube. He has been trying to show me why he doesn’t believe in God and how science has disproved Him.  I have been sharing why I believe and how science does not disprove God. It has been interesting and I noticed as we got along in our correspondence it was leading into a heated debate.  This was not the intention.  So we decided to back off and discuss life topics.  We will see where it goes.  I just pray I can be true to the Gospel and true to Jesus.

In reference to my opening quote, the Bible truly does not need our defense.  We should be able to defend our faith and our belief in Scripture, but the Bible itself, needs no defense.  When it is read and studied it will defend itself.  It will show you who you really are.  It will show you the Truth, the Way, and the Life.

“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical  documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses.  They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific  prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”  Voddie Baucham

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:16-21

Why Daniel Didn’t Eat That

I recently did a Daniel Fast with a few other people.  If you don’t know what that is you can click the link.  I will explain briefly.  It is based on the prophet Daniel and how he fasted for 21 days eating no pleasant food.  During the fast there are certain foods you cannot eat like meat, dairy and anything processed.  You can, however, eat as many great things like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains as you want.

A big point of this fast, aside from the nutritional benefits, is the spiritual journey. I used this time to get closer to God. There are things in my life that I am trying to get straight and in this time I prayed and focused on them and my relationship with the Lord.  I noticed as I did this, my faith was tested,  I know that anytime you get closer to God, the evil one does not like it.  He comes to tempt you to break away from the Lord. He comes to tell you that what you are doing in meaningless.  He comes and messes with your faith in Christ.  He comes to mess with your family.  But a faith not tested is no faith at all.

During this fast, I read again through the book of Daniel.  I noticed some things I have not before.  I remembered hearing a sermon once on Daniel and the pastor pointed out that Daniel is one of two people written about in the Bible that there is no mention of them committing a sin.  The other is Joseph.  This does not mean they did not commit sins because only One was sinless and that is Jesus Christ.  Daniel just has no documented sin.

Daniel did however have a tested, tried, and true faith in God.  In the beginning of the book, he and his three friends choose to not eat from the king’s table showing that they would only eat the clean food God said he could eat.  For their faith God rewarded them with the gift of knowledge as well as giving Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and visions.

 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. Daniel 1:17

In Daniel 2 we see the gift from God used to help Daniel interpret the King’s dream.

We see the faith of Daniel’s friends being tested in chapter 3 as they refuse to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar.  The penalty for not doing so was one would be placed into the fiery furnace.  The king had the furnace burn seven times hotter for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  But their faith saved them and a fourth person appeared in the furnace with them.  Was it Jesus?

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25

Then, of course, there is probably the most popular story of Daniel and that is him in the lions’ den found in chapter 6.  Daniel was favored by King Darius and others in the kingdom didn’t like that.  They tried to find dirt on Daniel to get rid of him.  They could not find any.  So they manufactured some knowing that Daniel faithfully prayed and worshiped God.  They tricked the king to make a decree saying only he can be worshipped.  The penalty was being thrown into the lions’ den.  Daniel, being faithful to God, was caught praying.  He was thrown into the lion’s den and God saw to it that he was unharmed.  As a result, king Darius saw that Daniel’s God was real.

Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed ,his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and winders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27

Something I focused on during this fast was trying to have the faith of Daniel.  I have faith, but enough to be tested after ten days of eating only vegetables?  Is it enough to be put into a furnace?  Is it enough to survive in the den of lions? I made it through and I believe my faith is stronger.  It is growing stronger everyday. I do have days when it is tested and tried to the point of breaking but it does not.

This I so, but not because my strength, but because of His.  The One who was truly without sin.  The One who became sin for me and you.  The One who gave Himself as a blood offering for our sins.  I know Him.  His name is Jesus Christ.

Do you know Him?  He can set you free.  One thing I know in having my faith tested is that we are all sinners.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

But Jesus Christ came to free us from our sin.

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18

I pray that in all you do, you meet and follow Jesus.  I pray He works in your heart.  I pray you have a faith like Daniel.  I pray you put your faith in Jesus.

True Miracle

This past week a friend of mine lost his sister to cancer.  I did not know her but he told me she fought hard.  She never gave up.

My friend is a fellow believer in Christ Jesus.  He gives his life to Christ.  As a believer he prayed without ceasing for his sister to win her battle.  He talked to his sister about the healing power of Jesus and what faith in Him can do.  He even found a church where the pastor had a personal physical healing by Jesus and took her there.  He said she began to gain greater strength to fight for her life.  In the end though her life on this earth has gone.

After losing a loved one after praying and believing in miracles many would lose faith.  Many would turn from God.  But my friend is an inspiration.  He knows the truth.  He demonstrates true faith in Christ Jesus.  Instead of turning from God he boldly turns to Him.

At the viewing he said a few words about his sister.  He spoke of how he and many other family and friends had been praying for a miracle.  He said that many prayed for her life.  Then he spoke more truth of how in her battle with cancer he saw her grow closer and closer to the Lord.  He saw her faith grow.  You see, he knows the truth.  He knows the true miracle.  He knows the true promise of Christ Jesus. He knows that when we believe in Him we never die but we have eternal life.  Life without pain.  Life without suffering.  Life without cancer.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

While we all prayed for a miracle of her life continuing on earth, another one happened.  She came to truly believe in Jesus.  We prayed for her to live and now she lives forever.  If we believe, we will live forever as well.  My friend believes.  He will see his sister again.

Some may not see it as a miracle.  Some only see miracles as the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead rising back on earth.  Once they see they will believe.  But believing is seeing.  Jesus didn’t work miracles in his life to draw attention to himself.  He worked them for the people who already believed.  All throughout scripture there are examples.

They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.”  They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat. Mark 5:38-43

I recently listened to a sermon by Alistair Begg about this passage.  He had a lot of eye-opening points.  The one that spoke to my heart about this loss is that after Jesus heals the little girl He tells those in the room not to tell anyone.  This is after He puts out all those who were laughing.  Alistair Begg points out that those who were laughing at Jesus, unbelievers, did not get to see the miracle.  He said something like, “those who laugh at the words of Jesus don’t get to experience the works of Jesus.”

Again I see that a true miracle did take place in my friend’s sister’s life.  She believed and now in her death she finally gets to live.

I pray that his family gets time to grieve.  I pray that when they are done grieving, whenever that may be, that joy comes in the morning.  I pray that they all see the miracle and they all find their way to give themselves to the Lord Christ Jesus.

To my friend, you are a godly man.  Your love and boldness for Jesus is inspiring.  Thank you for setting a great example for so many.

I saw how many people your sister touched with her life.  I am sure there are many more.  She is home now.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. John 5:25

Perfect

There was once a man who really hated Christians. He would do anything to shut them up. He would do anything to keep them from meeting. He would do anything to stop the spread of the Gospel.

This man went on to be one of the most influential evangelists of all time. He started many churches. He wrote almost half of the New Testament. Hard to imagine the same man who was responsible for the death of many believers became the biggest believer.

This man at one point was known as Saul of Tarsus. Jesus chose him to spread His Word. Jesus chose a man who wanted to stop people from believing in Him to bring the Gospel to the world.

Was Paul the perfect choice? Probably not in our minds. Why would Jesus pick a person who had sinned against Him so much?

Some of us feel we are not worthy of God’s grace. Why would he choose us when we sinned against Him? Even if we are already believers we can ask why would He continue to love us when we can’t completely get rid of our sins?

I asked a friend of mine her thoughts on this. She reminded me of the following.

“The Bible says Paul suffered a “thorn in his side” for all of his ministry. I guess this means we may each have one? It doesn’t make our ministry any less important, just means we all have something we may struggle with even throughout our lives that The Lord doesn’t completely take away for whatever reason. We should not think our ministry is not acceptable unless we are perfect, for only He is perfect. Right? So maybe what you feel is beating you down is something you need to continually pray about the same as for me? Paul’s ministry was amazing, God worked so much into the lives of others through him even though he had a battle within himself that the Bible never reveals to us. I think God leaves us wondering, maybe we can put our own battle in there, kind of like fill in the blanks, but still live a life that proclaims the Gospel in a great way. Whether it’s thoughts, perfectionism, or someone else’s something, we need to be like Paul, pray through it, give it to The Lord each morning, and move on to serve in a mighty way.” Rose Jones

Rose really put it perfectly. Saul was not perfect. He had to be blinded to finally see. Even after being born again as Paul he still struggled with sin but persevered in his faith in the Lord Christ Jesus and proclaimed the Gospel to so many.

So I ask you who feel you are not worthy of salvation. I ask you who feel you cannot be forgiven by Christ Jesus. I ask you are you any worse than Paul? This man killed Christians and Jesus knocked him off his horse, blinded him to let him see, forgave him, and he became a great Christian.

To the believer I ask are you struggling with a sin? Are you feeling you don’t deserve the salvation you already have through the grace of Christ Jesus?

Paul struggled. He prayed. Here is how he explained his thorn and how God answered.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

If we don’t struggle. If we have all of the answers. If we are perfect then why would we need God? We need God. We need Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  In our struggles appears the greatest glory of God.

Believers and non-believers remember this: God’s grace is sufficient for us all.