A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mark 9:20-24 "I Believe -Help My Unbelief"

          When it comes to true faith, we have a dilemma.  Our dilemma is that we might truly want to believe, but our experiences in life kind of put a damper on our faith –our ability to believe.  Let’s be honest.  We are skeptical by nature.  We really do want to grab a hold of all of the Bible's promises and believe them with all of our hearts, but when our experiences collide with the promises, when the physical world collides with the supernatural, we tend to think the physical is dominant.  But this is the very crux of what it means to be people of faith.  It’s not a matter of wishing harder –it’s not a matter of trying harder –it’s not a matter of setting aside our logic and our reason –it’s not a matter of hoping for the impossible –it’s simply a matter of believing that when the two worlds collide, the divine supercedes the mundane –the spiritual is stronger than the physical.  When we begin to grasp that, all things are possible.

         But even the ability to see these things with our spiritual eyes and receive them with our hearts is a gift from God.  There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates.

Mark 9:20-24
So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father.
“From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can’? Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”
          What I want to really call attention to is this desperate father’s simple prayer – a prayer Jesus answered –“I believe, help my unbelief.”  Sometimes that’s the best we can do –we come to God in obedience, ask Him to act, to provide, to heal, to restore, to fill and empower us to do the things He wants us to do –all the while knowing that it’s beyond our ability –yet asking God for the faith, the belief that is necessary to trust Him.  I have no ability to do the supernatural –but the Holy Spirit in me is, in fact, supernatural.  God, help me believe that when the two worlds collide, the supernatural overwhelms the natural.  I do believe –help my unbelief.

         If this is starting to make some sense to you, why don’t you pray that simple prayer out loud to God, right now.  “God, I do believe –help my unbelief.”

Sunday, September 8, 2013

John 14:12 "Greater Works Than These"

I fully accept Jesus as my Savior, my Healer, my Sanctifier, and my King. So, I believe Him when He made the radical statement in John 14:12:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

At first that seems like an impossible, almost insane statement. Think about it. Jesus, according to the Bible healed the sick and made the blind to see and the lame to walk. He cast our demons. He calmed storms. He knew what men were thinking in their hearts. He fed thousands of people with a little sack lunch of a couple of fish and a loaf of bread. Jesus did a lot of things that we would call miracles –things that normal everyday people like us can’t do. But Jesus did them.

And the normal explanation that most Christians seem to grab onto is that Jesus could do these things because He was God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God –Jesus affirmed that He and the Father are one and the same –Jesus said that no-one can come to God accept through Him. So, we have grabbed onto the fact of Christ’s deity as an explanation of how He could do the miraculous.

But to attribute the miracles to His deity means we have to ignore what Scripture teaches about Jesus and what He said about Himself. For instance, In Philippians 2:5-7 we are told that even though Jesus was God, He did not consider equality with God something to be held onto and emptied Himself and became fully human. And in Galatians 4:3-5 we are told that Jesus was born as a human, fully under the law. In both John 8:28 and John 14:10, Jesus said that He did not act in His own authority, but the authority of the Father who dwelled in Him -He only did what the Father told Him to do.

So what the Scriptures tell us about Jesus and what Jesus told us about Himself is that although He existed as God before taking the form of a human, as a human, Jesus laid His deity aside and lived among us fully human. He didn’t do all those miracles as God, He did them as a human living in absolute right relationship to God. He not only did miracles, but lived a sinless life as a human empowered by the Holy Spirit, intimately connected to the Father.

We, of course, are not exactly like Jesus. We didn’t have the option to enter life sinless and without a predisposition to sin like Jesus did –that’s what the virgin birth was all about. That isn't part of our story –but, since through the shed blood of Jesus, His death and resurrection, we are forgiven and made right with God, and since we also now have the Holy Spirit to endwell and fill and empower us, we now have the Spirit-empowered abilities that Jesus had. Sinless Jesus walked and talked and taught and did the Father’s will through the intimacy made possible through the Holy Spirit. Although not sinless, we are forgiven of our sins and have the exact same Holy Spirit with us that Jesus had with Him. If we choose, as Jesus did, to walk in the Spirit, we can do the things that He did. That’s His promise. He said it clearly. We can choose to not believe it –but not believing doesn’t change the fact that the promise was made, and therefore possible.

Can you see the implications that this has for us as Believers? Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised, will do the same Spirit empowered things that Jesus himself did. The sick will often be healed. God will speak to our hearts. Motives of the heart will be discerned. Miracles will happen. Those in spiritual bondage will be freed. The broken-hearted will be restored. The demonic will be confronted. The works of the devil will be destroyed. We will literally be the Body of Christ -His continuing presence -His ambassadors.