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May 7, 2003

Do You Want To Be Made Well?

John 5:5-8
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

"Do you want to be made well?" That's a question for most of our society. We are a culture that cherishes our disabilities. Parental neglect, the impact of divorce, issues with authority figures; we always seem to be compensating for something in our past that has handicapped us emotionally. And it's not just people who are downtrodden. Many successful people use thier insecurity as fuel for their achievments, as if to prove something even if it's just to themselves.

"Do you want to be made well?" Like this man, I always have an excuse ready. There's always someone to blame. The timing hasn't been right - something always comes up to prevent my attempts. I think about my "cherished sins" (a term I got from Dr. Ted Roberts) - those thinks that I turn to momentarily relieve the pressure or pain I am facing, which in the long run keep me handicapped. And each time I hear Jesus asking me the real question - do you want to be well? It makes me wonder if we (as a culture) really want to be well. Our emotional handicaps and disabilities begin to shape so much of our identity, that while we hope to be whole, we can't see how it could happen outside of what we have already comitted to (e.g. "sitting by the pool, waiting for the waters to be stirred").

So Jesus says, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." My wholeness has less to do with the exten of my inability than it does with my obedience. This man at the pool wanted to be well. There was no more room or time for excuses. Vs. 9 says "immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and walked."

Lord, today I'm ready to walk away from what I thought was the answer for my infirmity. In obedience to your Your word, I will be well, and I will walk.

August 5, 2003

In Jeff We Trust

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Relevance. It's the buzz word in the church today. It's the responsibility of the church to connect to eternal truth using communication methods that our culture understands. but there is one thing more important than relevance - power. Movie clips and drama vignettes are helpful tools to communicate the Gospel. Music styles and atmosphere help people to experience God's presence. Accountability groups and recovery minstries help people to face the issues created by the residue of sin. These things are very important and part of the care we should provide for our community. But in my situation, as much as we have tried to meet these needs at NH, I feel like they have been more about human wisdom. What I really want to see is the demonstration of God's power. It is the only thng that can radically transform people's lives.

But for this to happen, there is a weakness that I must embrace. It is the reality that I am not as smart as I think I am as a leader. I must be more committed to knowing Him in the "power of the resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10) than proving to be an entertaining and impressive communicator. In 3 years, I've tried to convince people to put thier faith in me as a leader. Today I'm reminded that I want them to put thier faith in the power of God.

Lord, would you please visit our lives in your grace and power? Let it be according to our faith.

February 19, 2008

Those who believe

Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

This section of scripture, part of the "longer ending" of Mark, is not included in the earliest manuscripts. Yet the book of Acts shows the apostles doing these things: casting out demons, speaking in tongues, healing, even "snake-handling" (Paul on the island of Malta). This could explain why it was included, even if it was an afterthought.

I believe in healing, tongues, and deliverance. I wonder why these demonstrations of God's power are not more natural and numerous in the church today? We have no problem believing that the presentation of the Gospel transforms lives. It's just that the demonstrations of God's power to transform lives is harder. We're comfortable with the process of sanctification. Less so with the moments of regeneration.

I know that Biblical, prophetic teaching/preaching produces change in people's lives. But in my opinion, it's not enough (at least as the exclusive process by which transformation takes place). Following Jesus must be more than a way to better our lives; it must transform them. That's what I believe.

October 13, 2010

Blinded

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.

About Power

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Power category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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