He spent his days begging on the road that led from Jericho to Jerusalem, unable to make a living any other way. His name was Bartimaeus and he was blind.
A cloak was his only possession. It shaded him from the sun, protected him from rain, became his only comfort and blanket at night.
He had heard of a man named Jesus who heals. Miracle of miracles today he was passing right by him. Being tired of barely surviving he cried out to the one who could change his life.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!”, they scolded. Leave the Master alone!
He cried out even louder. “Have mercy on me!”
He knew his situation was hopeless. Sooner or later he would die from lack of food or exposure to the elements. He would not be quiet. In desperation, he shouted again. “Have mercy on me!!!”
And then the unbelievable news…”Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside, jumped to his feet and ran to Jesus.
“What do you want?”, Jesus asked.
“I want to see.” Was Bartimaeus’ reply.
“Go your way your faith has made you well.”
But as Bartimaeus looked at Jesus, he couldn’t go his way. He followed Jesus on the road, wherever that road would take him. He left it all. His cloak, his future, his dreams of a seeing life. All he wanted was to follow Jesus.
This would be Jesus last trip into Jerusalem. He was on his way to the cross.
William MacDonald sums it up “It was a good thing that Bartimaeus sought the Lord that day because the Savior never passed that way again.”
Are you like Bartimaeus? Do you see your need? Do you see your hopeless situation?
If so, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
For further study: Mark 10:46-52; II Corinthians 6:2b
My goal is to put up one or two old hymns every month. Music paired with true words are healing to the soul. I hope they are an encouragement to you.
Horatius Bonar, a clergyman from Scotland, wrote this hymn in the 1800s. It has been sung to several tunes, but my favorite is an English folk tune called “Kingsfold” which was paired with the words around 1900.
You will find the music and words below so we can sing together.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me, and rest.
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, Weary and worn and sad.
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank, of that life giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light.
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun,
and in that Light of life I’ll walk, ‘Till trav’lling days are done.
“To be entitled to use Another’s name when my own name is worthless,
To be allowed to wear Another’s raiment because my own is torn and filthy.
To appear before God in Another’s person – the person of the beloved Son –
This is the summit of all blessing.”
Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
For further study:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
And so begins a poem by George MacDonald, “That Holy Thing”.
This year we are missing the Christmas we were expecting…the Christmas we remember…
Over 2,000 years ago a baby was born. His purpose…to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) The focus wasn’t on the corrupt government or the invading armies. He didn’t come to change society, He came to transform hearts. Repentance, not easy living, was His goal.
33 years after he was born He died an awful death at the hands of those He had come to save.
3 days later He rose from the grave in spite of Satan’s best efforts to do away with God’s redemption plan.
40 days later, He ascended into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)
Now might be a good time to remember some of the promises He made before He left.
John 14:3 …If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again that where I am, there you may be also.
John 16:33 “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 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
We need to remember that…
He is with us,
He died for us,
He has overcome the world,
He is preparing a place for us,
He is coming back to take us home.
There is nothing I would like more than to sit down with each of you and have a cup of tea. I can picture each of you hurrying around getting ready for Christmas with many or few people this year. Most of all I pray that each of you finds the peace that only Jesus can give.
For further study:
..in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. I Corinthians 15:52
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings… As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17: 8 & 15
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence – Isaiah 64:1
And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Joel 2:13
“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1
Those are familiar words to all of us. Jesus was talking to his disciples. In a few short hours he would be arrested.
The current situation was alarming. Most of them had no idea how alarming it was. They must have sensed Jesus was on edge, but even though he had tried to tell them of the trouble that was coming they couldn’t comprehend it.
He tried shifting their gaze from earthly trouble to heavenly peace. (John 14:2-3) It is a good place to rest our eyes. These days of sickness, unrest and trouble have been taking it’s toll on our children, our families, our countries, and our world. I can’t remember another time like this in my life. There have been wars, and local trouble, but this trouble is world wide.
What kind of power could make this such a world wide event? I can think of only one. Satan, himself. He is determined to destroy men and turn them against each other and more importantly against God.
We are reminded in Ephesians 6:12
“for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
My granddaughter, Arianna asked me the other day why God didn’t come and make the new heaven and the new earth now. (II Peter 3:13) Why was He waiting?
I paused, because I long for that too. My answer was simple.
God is very patient. He is waiting for those that might yet decide to come to Him.
II Peter 3:8-9 “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Are you one of those He is waiting for? Have you turned to Him in repentance and accepted His forgiveness?
We each have a great need. Our sin has separated us from a holy God. Because He loves us He has made a way for us to come back to Him. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. Paid for our sin. He rose three days later and conquered death. He asks us to repent and believe.
Repentance involves a change of direction. Turning away from selfish and worldly pursuits and a turning to God.
There is trouble now.
I don’t know if it will be temporary or if this is the beginning of the end.
Wouldn’t now be a good time to make things right with God?
Ezekiel 18:32 puts it simply. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord, so repent and live.”
For further study:
I Peter 5:8
“Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:28b
“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
“Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2
Anxiety that lasts too long can lead to depression. Having dealt with depression in my 30s it is something I fight against when the first signs appear. Sometimes no matter how hard we fight we can’t overcome it. Just such a case is found in John 20:24-31.
His name was Thomas. We know from John 11:16 that he was already discouraged. He was willing to follow Jesus to Jerusalem and to death. (Remember the Lazarus episode?)
Now things were truly hopeless. His worst fears were realized.
His leader was dead. The disciples were all in hiding. They feared for their lives. They seem to have forgotten all Jesus had tried to tell them while He was still with them.
It is one thing to die with your leader in a glorious battle. It is another thing to be left alone and expected to carry on when your Captain is dead.
Thomas was absent when Jesus first appeared to His disciples. (vs. 19-21) What was Thomas’ reaction when they tried to tell him they had seen the Lord?
What did he demand in order to believe?
Since Thomas was in such distress why do you think Jesus waited another 8 days before He appeared to him?
What is the first thing Jesus said? Why did he say it?
What did he say to Thomas? What was His tone?
Remember Jesus had told them these things again and again. I find his gentle patience amazing.
What was His final word to Thomas (and to us) in verse 29?
Do I ask God to prove Himself? Do I demand answers when God expects me to trust Him?
Why was the book of John written? (vs. 31)
What are we asked to believe and what is the result of that belief?
Our faith isn’t dependent on our circumstances. Thomas and the disciples were done in. They were completely discouraged, but they had forgotten that their real life was in heaven. They were here for a purpose, and it wasn’t to have a soft, easy life.
They were to engage in the battle that was raging. Jesus death was not without meaning. It sealed their redemption. It brought them life. They were just beginning to understand.
…and so, like Jesus, I say to you “…be not unbelieving, but believing.”
If you have any questions please comment below or e-mail me.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12
We have all had situations that didn’t turn out as we expected. A job offer that fell through, a betrayal by a friend, a baby that didn’t arrive, a lost love.
We all make plans in our head and when life turns out differently we grieve what might have been.
Today we are looking at Mary Magdalene. Her story is found in John 20:1-18. Here is the template. anxiety template
We don’t know very much about her, but Luke 8:1-3 gives us a little information. We know she was one of the women who followed Jesus from city to city. This group of women helped support Jesus and his disciples financially. It also mentions that 7 demons had been cast out of her. To say that her life was changed by her encounter with Jesus is an understatement.
She was all in. Her life was completely focused on following Jesus. Imagine her brokenness when He is crucified. This is where we pick up the story.
Notice what she does, where she is, who she tells.
We know from Mark 16:9 that she was the first one to see Jesus alive. Why do you think that was?
How am I like Mary Magdalene? How am I like all the other followers who were in hiding?
Our time line is different than God’s. We have all been in our houses longer than we want. We continue to pray and wait for God to act in supernatural ways. I fluctuate between contentment and restlessness. How can I learn to wait better?
Today we are looking at two sisters who asked in faith, but Jesus didn’t follow their timeline. Their names are Mary and Martha and their story is found in John 11:1-53.
I’ve been struggling the last few weeks. It started as a cold that wouldn’t go away and when the coughing overstayed its welcome I took myself to the doctor. Bronchitis was diagnosed and antibiotics were prescribed. I thought that was that and dutifully took my medicine and proceeded on my way. A couple weeks later my cough was sneaking back and there was no more medicine to take. I called the doctor’s office and they prescribed something stronger. It remains to be seen if this medicine will be effective, but I got a bit of a shock when I read through the three pages of warnings and possible side effects. I suddenly was afraid I would die in my sleep, if I could get to sleep.
But my biggest problem isn’t bronchitis. My biggest problem is sin. Like the paralytic in Mark 2 whose friends bring him to Jesus, tearing up the roof to get him there, Jesus first words to him were…”Your sins are forgiven”. It wasn’t that Jesus was overlooking the obvious (his physical condition). It was that Jesus saw his most pressing need as the need of his soul, the need to have his sins forgiven. The man didn’t get his life cleaned up before he came. He came sick and helpless. Jesus knew his most pressing need was his soul and almost as an afterthought he heals his body as well.
And so as I wait for the bronchitis cure to take effect I have to think of a more effective cure that has already been applied, one of eternal value. I can’t earn or work for it. I don’t deserve this cure and yet it is freely offered to me and to anyone who will apply the finished work of Christ to his life. Jesus did what I couldn’t. He died so I wouldn’t have to. He gave up His inheritance so I could inherit. How could I help but love such a God.
Show me something good… I need to see something good…
There are times in my life when I am surrounded by trouble. Deep discouragement overwhelms me. I find myself crying out to God…Show me something good…I need to see something good.
God in His mercy shows me good things. Things I have overlooked. Things I can’t see through the clouds that surrounded me. He shows me how He is working, unseen.
Lately I was reading about Thomas. He has gotten the unfortunate nickname of “Doubting Thomas”. (I shudder to think what my nickname would be if I was mentioned in the Bible.)
Thomas had been handpicked by Christ to be one of His disciples. He had spent more than three years walking the countryside, listening to, and working beside Him. He had left all to follow Jesus.
Now Jesus was dead and Thomas had given up hope. They all had. He was so discouraged that when reports started coming in that Jesus was alive, he couldn’t believe it. It was better not to get his hopes up. He didn’t dare believe it was true. It hurt too much.
When his fellow disciples tried to tell him they had seen the Lord he responded with…”Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
It wasn’t really a prayer, and yet it was. A desperate prayer to a God who had gone missing.
Eight days later when the disciples were together in a “locked” room Jesus suddenly appeared. After greeting them with, “Peace be with you.” He turned His gentle attention to Thomas.
“Reach here your finger, and see My hands, and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27)
Thomas’ immediate response was, “My Lord and my God!”
The relief must have been immense. What he didn’t dare hope for was true. His Lord was alive. His God wasn’t missing after all.
What came next must have broken his heart. “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)
It breaks my heart as well. When I fail to believe because things are dark, when I ask to see good when I am discouraged… God is gracious, but He must long for me to trust Him in the dark. He must long for me to know that He is good even in the midst of trouble.