Monday, January 30, 2017

Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand

Luke 6:9-10 NIV
Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"  He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.

Jesus was aware that the religious folks were looking for a way to condemn Him, and Jesus did ask the man to stand up in front of everyone, but I think it was to show everyone the heart of God to heal, not to provoke the religious folks.

As I read this passage, a few people came to mind who could be healed in a miraculous way.  Is there any reason why I should not pray for them to be healed?  Only fear of what people will think.  Is there any reason why I should pursue their healing?  Yes, to follow the footsteps of my Master and to please the heart of my Father.  I believe it pleases Him to heal.

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me your heart to heal. You desire wholeness.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of compassion towards people through healing.  Holy Spirit, give me boldness and prompting to ask for impossible, supernatural demonstrations of your goodness and power.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Growing in excercising Christ's authority

Rhett has had two warts on his pinkie finger of his right hand for four or five months, and recently, they were looking really ugly.  Finally, about a week ago, I just took him by the hand and commanded the warts to die and fall off.  Several days ago, the wart on the tip of his pinkie fell off.  So I asked Beau and Jude to come out their hands on Rhett's hand with me as I commanded the other wart to die and fall off.  Sure enough, today it fell off.

In my reading this morning, I read about new win in new wineskins.  I want to be renewed so that I can receive a refill.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness and patience.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example for me to follow.  Holy Spirit, renew me to be ready for another filling of you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Another kind of healing

Chronologically, up to this point, Jesus has healed and taught.  And as His ministry grew, so did his crowds.  Even the religious began to take notice.  And then Jesus did something really provocative. (Mark 2:1-12) When the four friends lowered the paralytic down through the roof, Jesus didn't immediately deal with the man's physical condition; rather, Jesus forgave the man's sins. 

I think I have tended to think of this situation as Jesus goading the religious, but Reef helped me realize that Jesus was always genuine to His mission and obedient to His Father in every situation.  Considering this from the paralytic's perspective, perhaps in a culture that blamed people's chronic illnesses or disabilities on their parents' sin or their own sin, maybe that man truly needed to hear from Jesus that his sons were forgiven before the healing of his body would be spiritually profitable for him.  Jesus had compassion on every person He healed, and I think His desire was that in every instance, people would see the love of the Father and turn to Him in faith and devotion.  I think this is important for me to keep in mind as I follow Christ's example in healing people: God cares about your spiritual condition just as much as your physical condition.  

This past Sunday, Greg preached on Luke 4:16-30, which I had studied that morning.  Greg pointed out how Jesus was taking His Gospel to the outcasts, and that burned the religious.  It challenged me to consider how I focus so much attention on what "important" people think of me, but the important people to God are the least of these.  This morning, I read about Jesus hanging out at Matthew's house party, and the religious scoffed at Jesus associating with bad characters.  And Jesus responded:

Matthew 9:12-13
... "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Heavenly Father, may I look past the surface level of what is seen to what is unseen.  Help me see the spiritual and eternal things around me, and may I be attentive to help the least of these experience your healing and redemption.  Use me to lead people to the Fountain of forgiveness and spiritual healing.  Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, may I keep my mind set on you and keep in step with you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jesus said, "I will. Be cleansed."

Matt 8:2-3 YLT (also Mark 1:40-42 and Luke 5:12-13)
and lo, a leper having come, was bowing to him, saying, `Sir, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me;' and having stretched forth the hand, Jesus touched him, saying, `I will, be thou cleansed,' and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Θέλω.  Most translations have "I am willing," which is similar, but technically the best translation is, "I will." I know that God is able to heal.  Of course He can.  I have wrestled with whether or not He wants to heal.  If Jesus is an accurate representation of the Father (which Jesus claimed to be), then we see here that God wants to heal.  The Greek verb parsing is present indicative active, which implies that there are no contingencies.  He desires to heal.  Period.

καθαρίσθητι.  Jesus didn't pray a long, elaborate prayer.  Nor did He ask God to heal the man.  Jesus simply commanded the man to be cleansed, and from what I've read, the Greek aorist imperative verb conjugation implies completion.  

Heavenly Father, I want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Please continue to lead me. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Prayer at the core

The foundation of Jesus's powerful ministry was dedicated conversation with his Heavenly Father:

Matthew 8:16 NIV
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.

Mark 1:39 NIV
So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Jesus learned where He was supposed to go and and what He was supposed to do because He stayed in the presence of his Father. 

It is one thing to know about prayer, and it is still another to ask God for stuff, but I want to mature in dedicated conversation with our Heavenly Father (especially the listening part).  In our home group the last two Sundays, we have practiced listening to the Holy Spirit, and I want to practice on my own in the mornings.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus' example.  I want to mature and grow up into His template.  Holy Spirit, please lead me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Authority and power

Luke 4:36 NIV
All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!"

I want to walk in the authority and power of Christ.  Jesus has been given ALL authority in heaven and earth (Matt 28:19), and He has delegated His authority to us as His ambassadors.  He has also given us the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

So, I think it is like most things in life, it takes practice to grow in authority and power.  At some point, if we really want to grow, then we must devote ourselves to practice.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us everything we need.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example, and thank you for delegating your authority to us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  May I be faithful to practice exercising your authority and power, for your glory.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Messianic anointing and mission

I love the passage in Luke 4, where Jesus reads the scroll from Isaiah 61:

Luke 4:18‭-‬19 NIV
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners  and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lordʼs favor."

Previously, I've been frustrated by some of the subtle differences between Luke 4 and Isaiah 61, but today I feel some resolve as I took time to study the meanings of the Hebrew words.

Isaiah 61:1‭-‬3 NIV
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the LORDʼs favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called [terebinths] of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I'm trying to consider the application of Isaiah's prophecy to the Israelites and possible connection with Jesus quotation in Luke 4, though Jesus' quote ends with Is 61:2.  But considering verse 3, if Zion represents the dwelling place of the king and a key place of worship of God, and if we can extend Isaiah 61 to all of those who are disciples of the Messiah and long to see Him fully revealed and established as the King to be worshipped, then perhaps people are grieving in Zion because of the tension between the "now and the not-yet"?

Praise the Lord that we are part of the crescendo!  Let's abide and work for more "now"!

Heavenly Father, thank you for calling me to be a disciple of the Messiah, and thank you for sharing His anointing and mission with us.  Lord, may I faithfully abide with you to know your will and do it. I want to live out Isaiah 61:1-3 like Jesus did, and even more, because that is what He promised. Holy Spirit, I know that you are upon me, and you have sent me.  May I be faithful to keep in step with you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Comparison of Jesus' conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well

John 3:5‭-‬8, 34 NIV
Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." ... For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind; He moves and we respond.  We want to become so attentive to His presence that we are each dancing with the Wind, all together an orchestration for His glory.

John 4:10‭, ‬13-14 NIV
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." ... Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The Holy Spirit is like the bubbling water of a spring, constantly moving and supplying more.  We want to be open vessel, constantly overflowing and never quenching the flow.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit.  Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching us about the Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence, your movement, and your abundance.  I want to be moved by you every moment of the day.  I want to keep my attention on you and what you are saying and doing.  Overflow through me and splash on people all around me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The miraculous leads people to faith in Jesus

After Jesus turned water into wine, His disciples put their faith in Him:

John 2:11
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.  

And soon after, Jesus was doing supernatural stuff that led people to faith:
John 2:23
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.

As disciples of Jesus, I think God wants us to live supernatural and miraculous lives.  Which means, I need to also God to do "impossible" things.

Heavenly Father, increase my faith and anointing so that you can do supernatural and miraculous things through me so that people will believe in Jesus and lead others to believe in Jesus.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Abundant grace

Last night in our home group, we asked the Lord for words of prophecy for each other.  It was a stretching time for me to try to listen to the Holy Spirit and step out in faith to speak what I heard, but I felt confirmation that several were really from the Lord.  It was such an encouraging and growing time for me.  The Lord's heart is for us.  His grace is so abundant.

Luke 5:4‭-‬6 NIV
When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."  Simon answered, "Master, weʼve worked hard all night and havenʼt caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

Jesus allowed himself to be limited by his humanity.  (He did not consider equality with God to be grasped.) But he set an example for us of human ministry filled with the Holy Spirit.  What would it be like if all of the disciples of Jesus around the world would bless others with supernatural abundance the way Jesus almost sunk those fishing boats with a miraculously abundant catch.

I want to live a life of demonstrating God's abundant grace and love in other people's lives.

Heavenly Father, you are a good father, and you give good gifts to your children.  I want to help you pass out the presents.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of partnership with the Father.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your power.  Help me grow in character and anointing, for your glory.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Baptized to baptize

I believe that when Jesus was baptized, He fulfilled the OT type of baptism in that He was submitting His entire identity to His Father.  And immediately, the Father endorsed the Sonship of Christ.  Of course, in our experience, there is also repentance, but I think a significant aspect of our water baptism is stepping into the identity of being a son of God.  Like a cucumber becoming a pickle.  And as a disciple of Jesus, your baptism is a commissioning to make disciples and baptize them. 

It also occurs to me that Jesus was simultaneously baptized in water and baptized in the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist prophesied that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  And after Pentecost, the disciples baptized others in the Holy Spirit. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of being a son and sharing your ministry.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and anointing.  Lord, please grow me in making disciples, baptizing them in water and the Spirit.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Promise of baptism of the Holy Spirit

It is interesting to me that all three of the synoptic Gospels quote John the Baptist's preaching that Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit (and fire):

Matthew 3:11 NIV
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Mark 1:7‭-‬8 NIV
And this was his message: "After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Luke 3:16 NIV
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Similarly, the Apostle John records the same truth as a confirmation when John the Baptist baptized Jesus:

John 1:32‭-‬34 NIV
Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is Godʼs Chosen One."

This is such a fundamental truth that is recorded near the beginning of all four Gospel accounts.  But the initial fulfillment was about three years later at Pentecost (after Jesus ascended).  Yet another example of waiting in faith for the fulfillment of one of His promises.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, thank you for fulfilling your promise in the Apostles at Pentecost, in the early disciples in the following years, and in me last year.  Holy Spirit, I want to live a life immersed in you.  Dunk me every day in your love and power.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fathering is shepherding

Luke 2:33
The childʼs father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

Joseph was not Jesus' biological father, but Joseph did serve as a father.  The role of a father is similar to the role of a shepherd: protecting, guiding, and providing. A father is a shepherd.  Fathering is shepherding.

As I was meditating on the reality that I have the privilege and responsibility of shepherding my family, I began to prophesy over my family:

"Our family is yours, Lord."
"My heart is yours, Lord."
"Brandi's heart is yours, Lord."
"Beau's heart is yours, Lord."
"Jude's heart is yours, Lord."
"Rhett's heart is yours, Lord."
"Katelyn's heart is yours, Lord."

Heavenly Father, thank you for being a father to us.  Thank you for shepherding us.  Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd.  I want to be an effective shepherd for my family. Holy Spirit, anoint my family, and use us to bring the Father's children back to Him.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Riding with my dad while harvesting cotton several days ago, my dad told me that he has learned this principle:

"Don't grow weeds."

Weeds steel water and nutrients which decreases crop production.  And then they can slow or disrupt the harvest.  

I keep thinking about that principle.  What weeds are growing in my life?  I want to be diligent about pulling out weeds while they are small and easy to remove, and especially before they produce seed and multiply. 

I think a weed in my life is my tendency to be quick tempered with my boys, and I am afraid that it has already produced seed.  

Heavenly Father, thank you for your patient love.  Lord Jesus, thank you for defeating the sinful fresh and for sharing your victory.  Holy Spirit, thank you for producing your fruit in my life and for removing the work of the enemy.  I love you, and I want to be a vessel for you to use.  The harvest is ready; send me, Lord!  Use me.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Bible reading plan

Last year, I read the whole Bible, chronological.  (Technically, I finished Revelation on the drive back to EP yesterday.)

This year, I want to slow down and soak on the NT.

This morning, I read about Jesus' birth, and having recently celebrated Christmas, I am impressed with the humility of His entrance.  The angels told the shepherds that they would find him wrapped in graves clothes, lying in an animal feeding trough.  Yet, make no mistake, He is the Messiah, and He is God.  He could have entered with radiant glory that so intense that it would have melted humanity.  But He chose such a humble entrance, to the least of these.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the humility and gentleness of Christ's incarnation.  Lord Jesus, I want to be humble like you.  Holy Spirit, please grow humility in me.  You oppose the proud, but you give grace to the humble.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's resolutions

I have had similar resolutions the past several years, and they are fine, but I want to focus on growing in:
- meditation and listening to the Holy Spirit 
- patience and gentleness with my boys
- praying for healing

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and power.  I want to connect with you better this year than ever before, and I want you to flow through me more this year than ever before.  Please increase.  More, Lord.  For your glory.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.