Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing


Luke 5:4-5

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

I have spoken to many who have shared their conversion story with me. For some, their call from God was unexpected, out of the blue. They weren’t seeking spiritual enlightenment or calling upon God to be saved. They were, in a sense, minding their own business and going along the normal course of their day. 

 

This is what seems to happen to Simon Peter, James and John here in Luke 5. 

I found a verse hidden way back in Isaiah 65:1. These words from Isaiah prophesied this manner of unexpected conversions. God says through Isaiah: 

 

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. 

I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by my name. 

 

In my book about amazing women in the bible, I tell the story of Adam’s unexpected conversion. 

 

The Unlikely Happened 

Sometimes the most unlikely people find Jesus. Or—better said—Jesus finds them….  

In 1981, I moved to Port Charlotte, Florida, to work with youth in the community. In my first week, I met an 18-year-old named Adam. He was introduced to me as a brand-new Christian. When I learned that he had no church experience or Christian background whatsoever, I asked him how he became a Christian. He told me a most unusual account of God’s amazing grace.     

Adam and his best friend Frank were the ringleaders of a group of guys who were nothing but trouble. Alcohol, drugs, and rebellion were among their usual activities. They were edging toward gang involvement and considering adding guns to their collection of stolen goods.   

A week before I met Adam, he and his group were smoking pot as they made plans for their evening. All of a sudden, one of them (they can’t recall who it was) said, “What are we doing?”   

The others looked confused.   

“What are we doing with our lives?” the same person asked.  

Partially buzzed, they nevertheless came to a unanimous conclusion: “Let’s stop wasting our lives. Let’s do something with them.”    

 

One of them said, “Let’s go talk to my dad. He’s a Christian, and maybe he can help us.”   

They walked away from their pot and went to find truth and meaning for their lives. The father shared the gospel that evening, and the guys prayed to receive Christ right then.    

 

I met Adam that first week at my new church… Adam began to attend my youth group, and Frank joined him soon after. I mentored and discipled Frank and Adam for the next three years.   

As of this writing, both Frank and Adam have been pastors for nearly 25 years. In their lifetime of service to God, each of them has impacted thousands of people for eternity. .    

 

Sometimes, the most unlikely people find Jesus. Or—better said—Jesus finds them.    

 

The Fishermen Are Caught 

Jesus went fishing in Luke 5. Just like Adam and Frank, Peter, James and John were minding their own business. They were in the business of fishing. But Jesus had different plans for the men. Jesus went fishing Himself and Peter, James and John were caught; hook, line and sinker. 

In the previous chapter, Luke 4, the people were pressing in on Jesus in order to be healed. The theme of the chapter was healing. But Luke added an important statement at the end of the healing service. He wrote in 4:43,  

 

But He (Jesus) said, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose. 

 

In Luke 19:10, Jesus proclaimed that His reason for coming to earth was to seek and save the lost. Jesus’s purpose on earth could be summed up with the following words:  

  • Preach (seek) 
  • Die and Rise (to save) 

 

But after Jesus ascends, the preaching needs to continue. Who is going to pick up the mantle of preaching the good news? Jesus begins the process of His plan to continue the preaching after He departs. In Luke 5, Jesus begins preparing others to carry on His ministry after He ascends back to heaven. 

 

The Calling of Peter, James and John 

Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God… 

And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.  

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’  

When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so, they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 

But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  

And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will catch men.’ When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. 

 

Chew on This 

The manner whereby Jesus calls one to follow Him is varied and unique. How did Jesus call you? 

  • Peter realized his sin before Jesus. At what point in your life did you realize that you were sinful before God? 
  • When God called you to Jesus, did you have a sense of amazement? 
  • Jesus called the men to fishers of men. Have you sensed a call from God to a certain ministry or service? 

 

Father, it is always astonishing how you save! You are a God of salvation. You love to save. Save our loved ones who are not following You. Draw them through your power in the most amazing and wonderful way. In Jesus, Amen! 


Living the Good Life!

Living the Good Life!


Roman 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. 

Ahhhhh, I love the good life. Give me the love and harmony of my family; a successful and fulfilling vocation; financial independence; leisure time for long vacations; admiration and respect from many; the love and appreciation of many friends. 

When these things come our way, we readily say, ‘God is good.’ 

 

Our God is infinitely Good. 

God is good. Together we affirm this statement. We agree with it. We speak it to others. We stand upon it as an affirmation of our faith. 

Acts of lovingkindness are the expressions of His goodness directed toward us always and continually. He knows what we need far better than we do. 

God is good. Until He isn’t.  

 

Why do bad things happen? 

When bad things happen to us, we become conflicted. When we experience sorrow, we stumble mentally in our attempt to reconcile the bad things happening to us with a God who we previously affirmed as good.  

We believe He’s always good. Good all the time. So, why the bad stuff? 

 

Help me make sense of this? 

Perhaps God doesn’t cause the bad things in our lives. Perhaps it is Satan causing it all. Perhaps it is not God’s will at all that we have any pain or grief. Perhaps it’s the result of a sinful world and/or the influence of Satan. 

If God is absolved in my mind of any responsibility for my pain, then maybe I can reconcile this conflict. If He isn’t responsible for the pain I am experiencing, then I can still believe He’s good. Yea, that’s it. I’m going to believe that God has nothing to do with pain, sorrow, disease, conflicts, difficulties, etc. 

 

Sounds good, but… 

But hold on…. if He isn’t responsible, this presents me with some other problems. 

  • If He has no responsibility for causing or allowing my pain and sorrow, then He has no power to fix it. Why then should I pray to Him? 
  • If He has no responsibility for our pain then He has no power to prevent it. Why do we pray to Him to protect us? 
  • Maybe He didn’t cause my pain, but He allowed it. If He has the power to allow it then what’s the difference between the power to allow and the power to cause? If He can allow it then He can prevent it. 
  • Just like we affirm that God is good, we also affirm that He is Sovereign. But if He isn’t responsible for our pain, then He’s not truly Sovereign. He has limits to His Sovereignty. 

 

Our passage for today, Romans 8:28, is very clear. There is no confusion as to what it says. 

 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. 

 

  • The statement of Paul is directed toward Christians; to those who love God and are called by God for God’s purposes. These are the recipients of the promise. 
  • The verse uses the word ALL. The subject of the promise is ALL the things that happen in our lives. Not some things, but all things. 
  • The descriptive word of the promise is that all the things that happen to us are GOOD.  The meaning of the word is that all things are inherently and intrinsically good. 

 

The passage is clear when we sit and read it in our Bible. But it gets a little muddled in our heads when life hits us with pain and sorrow. 

 

The good, the bad and the ugly 

I’m not sure how you view it all, but I know I fall short of perceiving and believing that everything that God brings or allows in my life is good.  

Here’s what I do — I perceive what God gives me as a mixture of the good and bad. He gives me a mixture of: 

  • Sometimes blessings (good) and sometimes difficulties (bad) 
  • Healing and pain 
  • Joy and sorrow 
  • Acceptance by some and rejection by others 
  • Pleasure and pain 
  • Happiness and grief 

 

I divide what God gives me into two primary buckets: Good and bad. Healing is good. Pain is bad. Happiness and Joy are good. Sorrow and grief are bad.  

I’m sorry to say but that’s the way I perceive it. I divide it and parse it out as good and bad.  

 

There’s no bad with God 

But God calls it all GOOD. He causes and works out all things in my life as good. He works it all out to fulfill His purpose for me; and His purposes are always good. 

The promise of goodness is directed toward us who are called by and for His purposes. 

I divide them into categories. God sees blessings and difficulties, healing and pain, my pleasure and pain and my happiness and grief as GOOD

 

How can bad be good? 

Then Paul defines what good is in the next verse following Roman 8:28. Verse 29 defines the purpose of God in working all things out in our lives for His good. 

 

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… 

 

His good for us, in all things that happen to us, is that we would be conformed to the image of His son. 

The reality is that God uses all things, whether we feel them as good or bad, to grow us, sanctify us and make us like Jesus. 

 

Father, You are a good God. You are filled with kindness, mercy and grace and you lovingly direct all that You are toward us. You love us and want nothing but good for us; You are wise to know exactly what we need; and You are all powerful to make it all happen, according to your perfect will and purposes. We trust that you are careful to bring into our lives only what we can bear and only what ultimately fashions us after the image of our wonderful Savior. In Jesus we pray, Amen! 


Hezekiah Against the World

Hezekiah Against the World


Isaiah 30

What are some of the ways that we focus on the powers of this world over the power of God? 

  • We fear the results of elections 
  • We fear world powers 
  • We fear natural disasters 
  • We fear diseases 
  • We fear loss of employment and financial hardship 

Learning Alert: All these fears are legitimate fears. I do not want to discount any of them. We should be mindful, careful and concerned over these fears. But we should NOT be consumed by them.  

 

As we will see in the life of King Hezekiah, we should bring all these concerns before the Lord, acknowledge His power over all things, and pray for righteousness to prevail. 

 

Contrast 

God often teaches us by using ‘contrast’. 

There once was a king in Judah named Hezekiah. He was known for being faithful to God. Faithful kings were rare in those days. Here’s what was said of Hezekiah in 2 Kings: 

 

He did right in the sight of the Lord…He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel…for he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him…and the Lord was with him; wherever he went he prospered. 18.3-7 

 

As contrast, here’s a description of the people of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah. The prophet at the time of Hezekiah was Isaiah. Here’s what he wrote: 

 

Woe to the rebellious children declares the Lord, who execute a plan, but not mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin. Isaiah 30:1 

 

The Years of Rebellion 

The nation of Judah was in trouble. After years of rebelling against God, the nation found themselves weak and vulnerable to the threats of opposing nations.  

When threats come our way, some of us surrender to God and seek Him. Others continue down the path of doing their own thing; trying to fix it themselves, making decisions using their own initiative, following their own intuition. This is what the people of Judah did. 

How foolish we can sometimes be. We act as if we captain our own ship. We act as if God doesn’t exist. We do it ‘our way.’ 

 

Hezekiah’s Advisors 

The advisors to King Hezekiah were wise in the ways of military strategy. But they were foolish in the matters of humility and dependence upon God. They recommended plans of human power and strategic alliances with foreign nations.  

Their plans were devised in a war room where they did not welcome the Spirit of God. 

 

Bad Advice 

The advisors brought a letter from the Assyrian king and handed it to king Hezekiah. The letter brought fear and trembling to all who read it. The Assyrians threatened Hezekiah and all of Judah. The letter mocked the God of Israel and ridiculed Hezekiah for trusting in Him.  

Additionally, they added threats by reminding Hezekiah of their conquests and military domination over other nations. 

The Assyrians were fierce, ruthless and impetuous people.  

 

What to Do? 

What did Hezekiah do? He did the opposite of what his advisors told him to do. Rather than seeking an alliance as allies with other pagan nations to stand against Assyria, he went to God.  

 

Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.  

Hezekiah prayed to the Lord saying, …You have made heaven and earth.

Your ear, O Lord and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to all the words of Sennacherib (the Assyrian who threatened Judah), who sent them to reproach the living God… 

Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.  Isaiah 37:14-20 

 

Here’s what’s happening: 

  • The people of Judah were trembling in fear at the threats of a mighty world power; the King of Assyria. They immediately cried ‘surrender.’ They gave up and put their hope in the King of Assyria. Maybe he will be merciful to us, they said. 
  • Hezekiah feared as well. But instead of giving up in fear, He went before God. 

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness… Matthew 6:33  

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him… Proverbs 3:5,6 

 

When fear prompts us to pray and seek God, courage arises. 

God can and will turn our fear into confidence. Our confidence and courage are in Him.  

Courage is fear that has said its prayer. 

 

We are weak, but He is strong. Father, take my fears and worries and fashion them into confidence; confidence in You and You alone. Amen! 


Pray and Serve

Pray and Serve


Luke 4:42-44 

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.  

But He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.’ So He kept on preaching in the synagogues.  

I like reading this verse; When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place… 

I enjoy quiet time in the morning. I lean toward the introvert-side of the social and interpersonal equation. In the morning I always prefer do what Jesus did in this passage: go to a secluded place and be alone. 

Give me my Bible and books. Give me my computer to write the output of my learning and insights. No personal interaction please. Just me, God, my Bible, my books and a computer. Ahhhhh, what bliss! 

 

Weary 

Can you imagine how burned out Jesus must’ve been this morning? The previous afternoon and into the evening, all the people of the surrounding areas were pushing and shoving to see Him; talk to Him; be healed by Him. They brought every kind of physical ailment, illness, pain and oppression. They had a myriad of physical and spiritual issues, big and small.  

On this special day of healing, no insurance card or co-pay was needed for Doctor Jesus to do His magical work.  

 

Laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Luke 4:40b 

 

Oh, and one more thing: can you also imagine the various personalities He encountered during that healing service? Some were patient and others were pushy. Some came quietly and others wanted to talk and talk and talk. Some wanted to explain every detail of their ailment; where it originated, how long they’ve had it, what it felt like, what it prevented them from doing, and every matter related to their lives. 

Was there pushing and shoving? I wonder if anyone cut in line? Did someone call them out? Did any arguments break out?

I’m sorry to say, but serving needy people can be seriously annoying. 

 

Dietary Conditions 

Recently, Leigh and I walked into a restaurant in downtown Houston. Right outside the door was a homeless man who asked if we’d buy him a meal. He was about the 5th homeless person we had encountered on our trip to the restaurant.  As is my usual response, (I walk around downtown a lot so this happens to me almost daily), I said no. He looked quite annoyed. 

We ordered our meal and I began to feel convicted. It irritated me that I was feeling convicted. I say no all the time.

What is different this time?

I couldn’t explain it to myself. Why am I allowing this conviction to spoil my dinner? Every homeless person in Houston knows that if they go to the Star of Hope and work their program with a certain level of resolve to turn their lives around, they will always have meals. 

The conviction didn’t subside. I hate it when that happens.  

So, I went outside and told the soured-faced homeless man I would buy him a meal. Without changing his facial expression, he said, ‘I’m a vegetarian. No meat please.’ A little stunned, I said, ‘OK’. As I turned to go into the restaurant, he said, ‘can I get a large Coke too?’ 

Yes, I was a little surprised at the conditions surrounding my offer to buy him dinner. Yes, I bought him a vegetarian meal and a large Coke. He ate a good meal that night with no negative effects of meat. But doesn’t he realize that those large Cokes will kill him? 

 

Fill Me Up 

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place… ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.’ 

There are two simple lessons that jump off the pages of scripture in this section: 1) get alone with God and allow the Spirit of God to fill you up so that 2) you can go out and do the work God has called you to do. 

 

  • Get alone with God, so that you can… 
  • Go out into the world and serve 
  • Repeat 

 

Do the work of an introvert (get alone with God) and do the work of an extrovert (be with people and serve). One may come easier to you than the other. But both are good. And both are needed to sustain ourselves in the calling of God upon our lives. 

 

  • Be alone with God daily 
  • Serve others daily; encourage others, bless others. Somehow and in some way, serve others daily 

 

Father, we are often weak. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to be still before You. We are so busy. Sometimes, it’s hard to focus on the needs of others when we have so many needs ourselves. We are too weak to do these things; but You are strong.  

We don’t bring noble gifts of self-righteousness. We bring You our weaknesses. But by faith, we know that You will show Your power through our weaknesses. May you do so, even today. Help us today to be alone with You and to bless the life of at least one person today. For Your glory, Amen. 


The Secret Things

The Secret Things


Deuteronomy 29:29 

The secret things belong to the Lord our God…  

Have you ever read this verse or heard it quoted? Most of you have. It is familiar to most Christian and a phrase often quoted by Christians who are going through difficult times. It is often quoted to bring comfort to someone who is going through a difficult life event.  

The secret things belong to the Lord our God; it can bring comfort to those of faith who are having a hard time making sense of it all. 

 

Difficult life-event? Having a hard time figuring it out? We’ve all been there. 

 

It certainly makes sense to remind ourselves that God’s purposes for us are beyond our  immediate understanding. And it’s good to be reminded that by faith, we should trust that He has a plan. 

This is a handy verse for such a reminder.  

As is often the case, the context of familiar verses usually isn’t considered when quoted. Often, that’s OK. Sometimes, it is fairly straightforward. But there is always more to it than is generally understood by isolating and quoting familiar Bible verses.  

 

What’s the real story behind Deuteronomy 29:29? Here’s the rest of the story… 

Here’s the entire verse: 

 

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. 

 

Yes, there are many deep and incomprehensive secrets about God that haven’t been revealed to us and that we are unable to grasp. By faith, we are called to trust God in the unknown mysteries that surround us in this world. Often, we feel like we are in a fog. 

Look at the verse again and divide it into two parts. The first part of the verse calls us to know and trust God. But the rest of the verse calls us to take some action.  

What we really know and comprehend about the vastness of God is fairly small. But what we do know is enough. And of the things revealed to us that we can know, we are called to action. 

We should focus on what has been revealed to us and what we do know about God. 

 

The Before 

The preceding context of this verse, Deuteronomy 29:29, reveals that this verse, was written to Israel when they were far from God, having broken their covenant with God and living in disobedience. This is helpful to realize. 

 

The After 

The following verses after 29:29, call the people back to obedience! 

 

Return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, to you and your sons, then the Lord will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you. Deuteronomy 30:2,3 

 

Israel was going through a period of time in which they were pushing God aside and living in sin and disobedience. Have you been there? Are you there now? 

When we wander and disobey, know that God is at work to restore you. It’s often a secret as to how He does it, (the secret things belong to the Lord your God), but if you are His, He is at work in You. 

  • He sometimes draws us back by wooing and whispering words of love and affection.  
  • He sometimes brings an ‘angel’ of a person into our lives to speak loving kindness AND truth into our souls. 
  • He sometimes takes us through difficulties and trials to draw us back to Him. 
  • He sometimes disciplines us. 

 

How God carries out His restorative work in our lives is up to Him. It is varied and it always accomplishes His purposes for His beloved. The secret things belong to the Lord our God… 

 

How should we respond? 

By faith, we’ll trust God with His secret ways. But there is also some action to be taken on our part. Let us do our best to respond to the second part of Deuteronomy 29:29 which says, 

 

but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. 

 

May we apply ourselves to KNOW thoroughly what has been revealed to us. He has spoken to us and revealed Himself through the Word of God, Genesis to Revelation. May we observe it with hungry and humble hearts. 

This is the joy of both KNOWING His Word and LIVING it out. This is a call to Live Scripture Daily!

Won’t you join me in this life-long venture of joy and blessing? To know Him, to know His Word and to allow God’s Word to change us, little-by-little, precept-by-precept, day-by-day. The natural outcome of this journey is that we’ll love Him more and obey Him more. 

 

Father, what joy and peace there is in knowing You; to know the real You as revealed in Your holy scriptures. There is much we don’t know and don’t understand, but what we have is enough to bring a flowing river of grace, mercy and blessings. As Paul wrote, For from You and through and to You are all things. To You be glory forever! (Romans 11:36). Amen!  


Isaiah 53

Healing, Part 3

Isaiah 53

Healing, Part 3


Luke 4 

Here’s what’s happening with Jesus while in Capernaum: within an approximate 24-hour period of time:

  • He publicly casts out a demon in the synagogue, Luke 4:31-37 
  • He privately heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever, Luke 4:38,39 
  • He publicly cast out demons and healed everyone in the village who was sick, Luke 4:40,41 

These events must be highly important in the life and ministry of Jesus because Matthew and Mark write about them as well in addition to Luke. Matthew provides the most compelling statement to tell us why these events happened and why we should seek to understand. 

Matthew tells us that these events in Capernaum were done to fulfill what Isaiah the prophet wrote about in Isaiah 53. 

 

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.’ Matthew 8:17 

 

Let’s go to Isaiah 53: 

 

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows, He carried…But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5,6. 

 

Here it is revealed that the suffering of Jesus was for our well-being and healing. Let’s not gloss over this. Jesus healed and cast out demons and Matthew says it was done to fulfill Isaiah’s writings.  

 

Is healing part of our salvation through Jesus? 

The simple answer is YES. Healing is definitely part of our salvation in Christ. Let that soak in: Jesus died for us to cleanse us from our sin and guilt AND to provide us with a new body.  

 

But we must be careful to understand what this means. What does the promise of healing and a new body mean?  

We will see that the salvation of our souls is full and complete today in Christ. We also see that the salvation of our physical bodies is still yet to come. It will not be fulfilled entirely until our resurrection.  

 

Jesus made a pledge! 

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 teaches us this very important spiritual reality. For now, we groan and long for our new body and to be clothed with our heavenly covering, verse 2. For now, this body feels uncomfortable, like a burden, painful; but soon, this mortal flesh will be swallowed up by a resurrected body, verse 4. How do we know this? Verse 5 says that God has given us His Spirit as a pledge and promise of Him that our new bodies are coming. 

When God heals today, it is not a guarantee that He will always heal in this world. When God heals today, He is kindly giving us a sneak preview of our future physical healing and complete transformation that we will receive when He gives us a new body.  

The Spirit transforms our spiritual being with a new heart and soul; forgiven and cleansed. Additionally, the Spirit is given as a pledge of the future transformation of our bodies in heaven, I Corinthians 5:5. 

 

Bringing it all together 

In summary, here’s what we have learned about healing: 

  • The work of Christ, death, burial and resurrection, is to provide us complete salvation of spirit, soul and body. 
  • The transformation of our spirit and soul, with complete forgiveness of sin, happens to us on earth when God saves us, by grace, through faith. Ephesians 2:8,9 and Romans 8:1,2. 
  • The complete healing and transformation of our body comes at the second coming of Christ. I Corinthians 15:35-50; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. 
  • Jesus’ ministry of healing was to validate that He was God (John 3:2), and to provide a picture or preview of His work of complete salvation of soul AND body, (Matthew 8:17). 
  • We should pray for physical healing. We should absolutely pray for healing and call upon everyone we know to pray for healing as well. 
  • For loved one’s who are not now saved, we pray for their physical healing and that God may use His healing to save them spiritually. 
  • For loved one’s who are now saved, we pray that God would physically heal them that they might live longer to serve and bless others, 2 Corinthians 5:9. 
  • The full work of Christ has given us a new heart and new mind spiritually NOW, I Corinthian 2:16; Jeremiah 31:33. For now, we have the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come; full transformation in heaven of a perfect soul AND body, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. 

 

Father, it is in your nature to heal. In Your perfect time, all things will be made new, spiritually and physically.  We long for physical healing and vitality but we know that sometimes you call us to suffer, just as men and women of God in the Bible suffered. Make us aware that our longings for wholeness, physically and spiritually, should remind us that this earth is not our home. We are not long here; heaven is our home. In the meantime, may we surrender ourselves to You, fully and completely, to be used by You for Your glory. Amen


Healing, Part 2

Healing, Part 2


Luke 4:38-41 

Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 

While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 

 

Here’s what’s happening with Jesus while in Capernaum: within an approximate 24-hour period of time,  

  • He publicly casts out a demon in the synagogue, Luke 4:31-37 
  • He privately heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever, Luke 4:38,39 
  • He publicly cast out demons and healed everyone in the village who was sick, Luke 4:40,41 

 

The public casting out of a demon and the private healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (which probably went public through word-of-mouth), set the stage for a good ol’ fashion healing service. That afternoon, all the people of the village gathered outside of Peter’s home after the word spread about the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. They brought any and all of their loved ones who were sick or oppressed to Jesus.  

 

And laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Luke 4:40b 

 

Lessons vs. Absolutes  

Let me give you a hint about understanding the narratives of the gospels: the stories of the gospels teach lessons; they don’t teach absolutes (Doctrine).  

As an example, here’s a mistake some make when they view narratives as absolutes. In this story, Jesus healed everyone from the village of all diseases and affirmatives. Therefore, Jesus will heal everyone who asks. 

Some people prefer to embrace these stories and claim absolutes. TV preachers will proclaim that Jesus wants to heal everyone and then as ‘proof’ they read these verses of Jesus healing everyone. That is a mis-use of the Bible and of the principles of sound interpretation of the God’s Word. 

 

The Spiritual and the Physical 

To understand the Bible correctly, we should realize that certain parts give lessons and others give absolutes. 

  • The 10 Commandments are absolutes. The narrative account of the Exodus provides lessons. 
  • When Jesus teaches, He provides absolutes. The narratives of Jesus provide lessons.
  • Proverbs contain absolutes. The stories of Solomon’s life in 2 Samuel contain lessons.
  • The epistles of the apostles contain absolutes. The stories of the apostles of Acts contain lessons. 

Additionally, there are absolutes that are true of us ‘spiritually’ but are not yet fully true ‘physically’. For example, Paul teaches an absolute truth by saying that spiritually, we are holy and blameless before Him, Ephesians 1:4. He also teaches that as long as we have a fleshly body, we are going to sin, Romans 7:14-17. Spiritually we are holy and blameless. Practically, as long as we are on this earth, we will still sin. 

 

A strange story of healing (not). 

I recently heard a pastor tell of a strange experience he encountered regarding the false view of healing that some Christians have. He was visiting some family in a town where he didn’t live. Some friends of his family, knowing he was a pastor, asked him to go to the hospital and visit with an elderly man who was close to death. He agreed. 

When he entered the hospital room, he found an elderly man in the hospital bed, wheezing and fighting for every breath. His family was surrounding his bed but the oddest thing was happening. They were all joking and laughing. The pastor described the scene as awkward, strange and very uncomfortable.  

As the pastor began to interact with the family, he discovered that they all believed that their father would be miraculously healed. Their view of Jesus was that He always heals when we pray. They felt they needed to laugh and enjoy this time because it would reveal to God how strong their faith was. 

Yes, when someone is sick, we should pray for healing. Yes, absolutely. Call the elders and call everyone to pray. But pray with Jesus as your example. He said, not my will but thine be done. Spiritually, when we are in Christ, we will not die. But physically, we will die and therefore, sickness, illness and suffering are a part of our earthly existence. 

Finally, the pastor took the older son out in the hallway and reasoned with him. ‘Your father is about to die and you as a family need to say goodbye. If you don’t, he could die while you guys are telling jokes.’ The son took it to heart and led the family to grieve and say goodbye before their father passed. 

 

I believe  

Note: I believe that God heals today, as well as in the past and certainly in the future. We all know of miraculous healings and/or have heard stories from reliable sources of God healing. But that doesn’t mean that we can boldly claim, as application of these stories in the gospels, that Jesus will heal everyone. 

Next time, we’ll dig deeper into the fulfillment of prophetic healing found in Isaiah 53. 

 

Father, as Paul said, while in this body we groan because we long to be clothed with the body that is guaranteed to us in heaven, (I Corinthians 5,4). We long for or physical bodies to be fully redeemed the way You have already redeemed our souls. This longing reminds us that our true home is in heaven. However, while we are here on earth, may we be useful to You, ready to do Your will and share our faith with others. Amen!   


Healing, Part 1

Healing, Part 1


Luke 4:38-39 

Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 

This is a strange way for me to begin a devotional writing but here it goes…

I literally don’t have any insight or discovery to share with you from this passage. I don’t know why this story is in the Bible three times. It is here in Luke and also in Matthew and Mark as well. There were hundreds of thousands of other moments in Jesus’ life that could’ve been included in the Bible, but God chose this one, the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Why? 

 

Welcome to my journey to discover the wonder of God’s Word.

Come with me as a struggle through this one to gain God’s purpose for this story and the richness of its meaning for us. I don’t know what it is now but I know it’s there. 

 

How Do I Approach Narratives? 

As we approach the narrative, we should begin with the understanding that there are always primary truths and secondary truths. Part of the fun is trying to discover God’s main purpose for including each story in Scripture and for mentioning each detail contained within the narrative. In order to gain the optimal blessings of God’s Word in our lives, we should be committed to and diligent about handling God’s Word accurately with a heart of discovery. 

 

Back to Peter’s Mother-in-Law 

This story has to be important because, in addition to Luke’s account, both Matthew and Mark included the story in their gospel. Here are their accounts: 

 

When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and waited on Him. Matthew 8:4-17 

 

And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever, and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. Mark 1:29-31 

 

As far as having any profound insights, I got nothing. Okay, I’m at a point where I feel like giving up and just moving on to the next section of Luke. Maybe I’m over-analyzing.  Maybe Jesus was just being nice and felt sorry for her. Maybe that’s all there is to it. Maybe I should move on. 

On the other hand, I could keep pressing on to discover what the big deal is about Peter’s Mother-in-Law. Since the narrative is in three of the four gospel accounts, I just can’t let it go. I guess I’m feeling a little stubborn and I’m just not willing to let it go.  

What I usually do when I encounter ‘Insight Block’ is press on with writing out simple observations. Here it goes… 

 

Observations 

  • The sequence of this event comes right after Jesus leaves the synagogue in Capernaum where he cast out a demon. 
  • After the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, that evening, all the people in the village bring their sick to Jesus to be healed.
  • Luke said he rebuked the fever and Matthew and Mark say that He took her hand. Both can certainly be true. 
  • Luke, perhaps because he was a physician, called it a ‘high’ fever. 
  • When the fever left, she didn’t need time to recover. She immediately had enough energy to wait and serve.  
  • This event occurred as talk of Jesus among the people was reaching a ‘fevered pitch’. This time in Peter’s home was a brief break from the needs of the people pressing upon Him. 

 

Still nothing significant from these observations. They are good and interesting observations but they don’t get me to the main point of the passage. So, let’s re-read the same story again in 

Matthew and Mark  

  • After the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, all three gospel accounts tell of the entire village coming to Peter’s house that evening.  
  • They bring their sick and oppressed and Jesus heals them all and casts out demons. 

 

Maybe this is it! 

I read more of the context in the Matthew account and I found something I missed before. The Matthew account states that these healings took place to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet;  HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASE, Matthew 8:17. 

 

Now we’re getting somewhere 

These events of healing and casting out demons were to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah. Next time we’ll go to Isaiah and see what we can discover as the missing key to the story. We’ll dig in further next time. 

 

Father, Your Word is a treasure to us. It is simple and clear and sometimes we make it too complicated. Regarding this passage in Luke, give us clarity and insight as we diligently seek to discover the important truths You are teaching us. You are our teacher; You are our guide; Your Word is the lamp and light that You use to open our minds to Your ways. What a joy to search and discover the wonders of who You are through Your most holy Word. We praise You and thank You for being our teacher. Amen! 


Be Still and Know, Part 2

Be Still and Know, Part 2


Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.”

In my writings, you see attention given to the purpose and background of the Bible book holistically (the larger context) and the surrounding verses of a particular passage being studied (the immediate context). Once we understand what the passage says in context and what it means, we can be sure of how we should respond, apply and live accordingly.

This is the true joy of systematic, devotional Bible Study. 

What is the context of this familiar verse in Psalms 46:10?

Be still and know that I am God.

Last time, we considered the horror of natural disasters and the havoc they wreak on the lives of people. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change. Be still and know that I am God. Click here to read Part 1.

 

The Uncertainties of Nations

The next section of Psalms 46 describes further uncertainties we live in. The instability of nations, governments and world leaders.

The nations made an uproar and the kingdoms tottered” verse 6. 

We feel and sometimes fear the vulnerability of world events around us. 24-hour news channels remind us continually of the explosive powder kegs of political and economic instability of nations led by evil leaders around the world. We often hear the phrase, “these are uncertain times.”

Nevertheless, nations are subject to God’s power and His will. The Psalmist in chapter 46 uses the following phrases to remind us who is in control;

Come, Behold the works of the Lord…He raised His voice, the earth melted…He makes wars to cease…He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two…He burns the chariots with fire, verses 8, 9. 

It is in this context of the uncertainties of physical disasters and the instability of nations that the Psalmists writes, Be still and know that I am God, verse 10

Then he writes the following about God; I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted among the earth, verse 10b. 

 

Did you catch that???

Exalted over the nations, (political instabilities) and the earth, (natural disasters).  Be still (in the midst of the chaos) and know that I am God (your refuge and strength).

What happens to me today is uncertain. However, His presence and attention toward me is guaranteed and sure.

Psalms 46:1 says, God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble… cease striving and know that I am God. Twice in Psalms 46 is the following reminder: The Lord of hosts is with us. 

Now, take 2 minutes to read Psalms 46 with the full awareness of its context. You will have a whole new appreciation of the value of understanding familiar verses within their full context. Your understanding of God’s Word will soar.

 

Psalm 46 was the inspiration for Martin Luther when he wrote the hymn “A mighty fortress is our God.” Prayerfully reflect upon these words: 

 

That word above all earthly powers, 

No thanks to them, abideth; 

 

The Spirit and the gifts are ours 

Through Him who with us sideth: 

 

Let goods and kindred go, 

This mortal life also; 

 

The body they may kill: 

God’s truth abideth still, 

 

His Kingdom is forever. 

 

Amen!