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October 13, 2010

Believe (in) Me

John 9:25 (NKJV)
25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 10:40-42 (NKJV)
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about his Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

OBSERVATION
Chapter 9 begins with the story of the blind man at the pool of Siloam. So many interesting sub-plots: Is infirmity a result of sin (v2)? Does keeping the Law make one righteous (v16)? Lots of interaction between the religious establishment and Jesus about His blasphemous actions. All of this is muted by the testimony of the formerly blind man in v25: “I was blind, now I see.” I love the sarcasm of his later comment, when being grilled by the Pharisees he wearies of their questions and says, “Why do you want to hear it (my story) again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (v27).

After all this, v35 says that Jesus went looking for the man he had healed, and asked him, “Do you believe?” The man responds with “Who is He, that I may believe in him?” And Jesus gives a great response: “You have both seen Him (funny to say to a man who was formerly blind) and it is He who is talking to you.”

From here, we follow Jesus as he returns to the Jordan River region (Aenon near Salim – see 3:23) where John the Baptist had been ministering. By now, John had been in prison, having had his own crisis of faith (see Luke 7:18-28, also, John had likely been martyred by this time – see Matthew 14:1-12). Jesus confirms his messiahship by telling John’s disciples to give this report to John: “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see…” John the Baptist’s testimony of the Christ (John 1:29,32-34) continued to carry weight, as 10:40-42 reports, and because of these things, many believed.

APPLICATION
There is nothing more powerful than an individual’s story of who Jesus is to them: The blind man who says, “I was blind, now I see,” the prophet whose doubts are alleviated when his words are confirmed. Yet us “religious folk” always want to explain things away when it doesn’t fit in our box. There’s even a segment of the Church today whose theology makes no room for the power of God to be demonstrated in tangible ways simply because they’ve deemed it unnecessary in this “dispensation.” I’m not here to argue nuances. I can only say that I too was “blind” at one time. I can only say that I had doubts about what I believed and questions about in Whom had placed my hope. I look to Jesus’ words in 10:37-38: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him.”

PRAYER
Lord, I believe in Whom I’ve seen and in Whose voice I hear.

January 28, 2011

Make or Break

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

OBSERVATION
I don't know the specific context for this Psalm other that is was written by David. Verse 4 is the verse I'm most familiar with from this passage.

It's interesting that David attributes "believing" to sustaining him during what must be a time of trouble. He isn't just waiting for God to do something good in the "eternal", but for something in the temporal - "In the land of the living."

APPLICATION
When times get tough and you don't see any relief or breakthrough, its important to believe. And in the time of waiting, what is being forged is your conviction about who God is and what He does. God is good. But when you're waiting (I'm waiting), the accuser attacks our resolve with the insinuations that although God is good, He's just not good to you. The other accusation is that you must not be good enough for God to work on your behalf.

Waiting is going to make or break you. You can lose heart and give up, give in. But if you wait...trust, rest. It's in the waiting that you reflect on what God has done, and allow your own testimony of God's goodness to strengthen you, or you question God's nature or your standing with Him. J. H. Jowett comments, "To wait for the Lord is to make the Lord the clinging place of the soul, and therefore the resting place, and therefore the growing place." The growing is in the waiting. And the battle is in the waiting. Courage is required, faith is exercised in the intermission between the promise and it's fulfillment. When you doubt, fear begins to sap our strength, our joy (Nehemiah 8:10). But when we wait...when we wait (I feel a TD Jakes moment coming on), our faith is built, our resolve fortified, our joy renewed, and our heart strengthened! Waiting will make or break you. But those who wait on the Lord, as Isaiah says, shall renew their strength. so as the psalmist says at he end of this passage, "Wait, I say, on the LORD!" for in the waiting, is the making.

PRAYER
Lord, you know I'm not good at waiting. Help me to develop a greater resolve, a greater patience. I know that you are good - my life is a testimony of Your goodness. So in this time of waiting (for a home personally, for our church's future), I believe...I believe. Strengthen my heart, for I too believe I'll see these things come to pass in the land of the living.

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