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nChrist
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« Reply #45 on: March 23, 2006, 03:57:23 AM »

March 23

Brood of Vipers
Mat_12:33-37

One of the features of modern "argument" is the attack upon another person's motives.  Christians do what they do because they are "repressed," or "hung up on sex," or "think they're better than anyone else."  Christ points out two fallacies in such argument:

First, it is impossible for the evil ones to consistently do good works.  So if you see someone consistently doing good works, they must be good at heart.  Hypocrites may imitate this for a while, but it can't be kept up.

As good works come from the heart, so do our words.  If you hear anger and slander coming from someone consistently, you have a window onto their soul.

The world understands this;  it's just that it's not convenient.  Mother Theresa was honored by all for her good works;  what a difficulty she posed to "modern thinkers" with her condemnation of abortion!

Note Christ's words:  "Make  a tree good."  This implies that a tree can be changed;  that one which is producing nothing of value can be turned into a good one.  This is true of trees;  the garden shops are full of chemicals and implements to do just that.  So it is that we can turn from our evil ways and bear fruit for Christ.  The test:  our works.  Note that our works are not our salvation, anymore than pinning apples on a cactus would make it an apple tree.  But they show our salvation being worked out in us.

Our words, too, show what is in our heart.  Most of us have trouble keeping our mouths from saying what our minds are thinking!  Here we see the characteristics of those who hearts are evil:

They are first a brood—some translations have "generation" - meaning that they come close to each other for mutual support and courage.

They are a brood of vipers—the word conjures up the snake, Satan, in the Garden.  They are those who seek to destroy by sly ambush and sneering tone.

They cannot speak what is good;  their hearts are evil.  Have you noticed that those who favor abortion also favor homosexuality, adultery and fornication as being desirable?

Our works and our words show what we are.  But—praise the Lord—we can be changed.  Let us make the tree good, and bear great fruit for our Lord.

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« Reply #46 on: March 25, 2006, 05:31:52 AM »

March 24

A Lack of Showmanship
Mat_12:38-45

Have you ever had your child say something like this to you:  "If you really loved me, you'd give me a cookie!"  Your reaction as a parent was perhaps not quite what your child desired.  You probably reminded the child of just who is the parent here!

Jesus is doing the same thing here with these Pharisees.  The signs, or miracles, of Christ are not a show to be commanded up to please or amuse the critics.  Nor can these hypocrites provoke the living God into showing off just to prove who's God.  God does things in his high and holy way, not our ways.

Remember that these are the same people who, a few verses back, said that Jesus was demon possessed.  Now they fawningly address him as "Teacher."  His answer is cold and to the point.  You will get a sign.  The sign is that of Jonah, by which he means the sign of the Resurrection.  That will be all you will see.

This is a result of their attitude.  Christ makes this clear in his two comparisons.  First, he brings to their mind Jonah:

Jonah was a prophet of God, a servant.  Jesus is the Christ, the Master.  If you listened to the servant, surely you should listen to the Master.

Jonah escaped from the "great fish;"  Jesus rose in glory from the tomb.  Which is the greater?

The Ninevites represent all the evil people who, upon hearing the call, repent.  Their example will entitle them to accuse this generation—for they repented at the call of a lesser servant.

But—it is a possible argument—I have no need of such repentance.  I am not evil;  I do all the ritual things the law requires.  Then you consider yourself wise, correct?  For the wise there is an example also.  The Queen of Sheba came a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon.  Solomon too was but the servant of God.  If she came that far to hear the servant, should you not hear the Master when He comes to you?

The point is simple:  the more you know about God, the greater your responsibility to act as a child of God.  The lesson applies to us today.  Are we so wrapped up in our church activities that we neglect the greater things of God?  When the poor man's child knocks at our door, do we feed the hungry?  Do we take care and expense to spread the Gospel, here and abroad?  These are the weighty matters.  We know this.  We will be held responsible for this.  Will we be accused because of this, at Judgment Day?

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« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2006, 05:33:32 AM »

March 25

Family
Mat_12:46-50

My mother tells my wife that I come with a "no money back guarantee."  No matter how much money my wife gives her, Mom is not going to take me back.

As we grow older we discover that mothers usually don't think they have finished with their children—ever.  It would certainly seem that Jesus is encountering that attitude here.  For most of us this would be appropriate—a sign of mother's love—but this should not be seen that way:

Christ was still talking when the interruption came.  At the least, this is rude.

It reflects their anxiety, for as Mark records, they thought he'd gone crazy.
Most likely, Mom was just trying to keep the boy out of trouble.  But this could not be done.

As appropriate as this might be in the usual case, Jesus is simply not the usual case.  He is God in the flesh;  he is not to be interrupted or dragged home quietly.

Taking care of your children, even your grown children, is a good thing.  Following the will of God is the best thing.  It is still true:  the "good" is the enemy of the "best."

For some of us this matter strikes home.  We live in families where some are Christians and some are not.  The agonizing question comes:  who do I please?  Who do I obey?  The matter cannot be settled by explicit rules, but the principle is this:  the will of God must prevail in your life.   (Recall, however, that the salvation of those you love is distinctly God's will.)  If you value your family and its harmony over God and his salvation, you risk leaving the family of God.

Note, too, that even though she is His mother, this gives her no particular standing above others.  Even the distinction of being Mary, who is indeed the most blessed of women, is nothing if she does not do the will of God.

But for those who do the will of God, they are mother, sister and brother to Christ.  Brother and sister we can see, but mother?  As the church is mother to us, raising us from spiritual infants to maturity, and what is done for the least is done for Jesus, even "mother" applies.  Mother—but not Father.  That title is reserved for our heavenly Father.  The family is defined by its father, and we are the Family of God.

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« Reply #48 on: March 27, 2006, 04:28:53 AM »

March 26

Parable of the Soils
Mat_13:3-23

This parable is a favorite among teachers—because Christ explains it.

The picture would have been familiar to the farmers of the time.

The path—beaten down by many feet—resembles the mind through which evil thought continually flows.  Pornography is like this;  it numbs the mind to true beauty.
The rocky soil—really, shallow soil on top of bedrock—stands for all those who live shallow lives.  Putting the ship out into the deep seems risky;  we'll stay here along the shore—and come to shipwreck.

The thorny ground is most familiar to us.  The cares of this world drive the fruitfulness out of the seed.  These thorns are natural;  they were there first.  But they are still deadly.

It is only the good soil of an obedient mind, working in deep honesty, that truly bears much fruit.

This much, we are familiar with.  Jesus has answered the obvious questions.  But there is a not-so-obvious question:  just why did the sower throw this seed in all those places?  Can't he see where the good soil is?

Perhaps it is to be an example to us:

First, that we should not be selective about who we tell the Good News of the Gospel.  Jesus talked to all manner of sinners;  why should we limit ourselves to the respectable types?

Next, that we might be true children of our heavenly Father.  As it is written, He causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  Evidently, it is his desire that the seed of the Gospel be distributed the same way.

Further, unlike the ground, the heart of man may change.  We may see stony ground, hard and bare.  But have you ever seen a tree growing from a crack in a rock?  The living word of God is a seed with power to crack the heart of stone, bore through the hardened paths of sin and grow taller than the cares of the world.

One last note:  it is the same seed sown in each place.  There is no different Gospel for the hardened, or the worldly, or the shallow.  There is only the Gospel itself, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  God is just.  He offers to all the same opportunity of salvation, making no distinction.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

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« Reply #49 on: March 27, 2006, 04:30:23 AM »

March 27

Lamps
Mar_4:21-23

There is a wonderful, recurring contradiction in our time:

We are absolutely certain that "the powers that be" are continually engaged in one hidden conspiracy after another, things of which they should be ashamed.  We know that they think they'll never be found out.

How do we know this?  By the large number of conspiracies unmasked—not by intrepid journalists or crusading reformers—but by the terminal ineptitude of the conspirators themselves.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is the nature of things—the God given and here proclaimed nature of things—that "whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed."  The principle has several applications for us:

There are many things "hidden" in the Old Testament—dark sayings which puzzled the learned of old, but now are clear in the light of the New Testament.

If you are a faithful follower, you know that prayer is something that is unseen by the world.  Unseen, but not unnoticed.  For what God tells you in prayer must be displayed in your life.

Has God given you a gift of ministry?  It may not be readily seen—until you use it.  You must not hide it under the bushel (the symbol of food and the things of this world) or the bed (the icon of laziness).

Ultimately, all things will be revealed at the Last Judgment.  Many are the theories of when and how this will happen, but one thing is certain:  Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead.  The secret things will soon be public.

Therefore, for that exact reason, we should not pass judgment.  Who are we to do so, not yet knowing all secret things—and knowing that someday they will be revealed?  Let judgment be reserved for the One who knows, and is just.

The candle on the candlestick cannot be hidden, but gives light.  The Christian likewise must be such a candle, placing his life on display—not boasting, but visible to all.  The world will draw the correct conclusions.  But beware, Christian.   The candle of life is only so long—and you do not know the day it will sputter out.  Let your light shine, therefore, starting today, for the rest of your life.

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« Reply #50 on: March 31, 2006, 05:05:31 AM »

March 29

Parable of the Seed
Mar_4:26-29

There is a continuing source of frustration to many Christians.  It seems so simple—for some—to be personal evangelists.  They write books with four step programs which give the impression that five minutes of conversation will infallibly produce salvation in the hearer—if only you follow the plan.

Christ here gives us the correction of that idea.  Consider:

The nature of the sowing

In the kingdom of God, we are laborers with God.  Our part is to scatter the seed, the message.

We scatter the message to others, but He gives us the increase.

This is so that we will not boast that "we" have saved anyone, but give the glory to God.

In all this, as we scatter the truth to others, it may seem as if it has no effect.  But wait:

The nature of the growing

The seed grows of its own accord—the Greek word here implies that it is automatic, by its own nature.  It is natural for the seed to grow.

We may be puzzled as to how this works.  Whether we know how or not, it still does.

God does this in his own order, not omitting the steps, so that when complete, it will be ready for use.

And He does it in his own good time—not ours.

The resulting grain in this parable has a number of interpretations:
The nature of the grain

This could refer to the harvest at the end of the age, when Christ comes again.

Or, it could be a reflection of our works upon our death.

It might indeed be the good works we do now.

But there is one thing we may see for certain.  Grain that is harvested has a number of uses.  One of them is to become seed for the next crop!  Those to whom we preach and teach today will someday mature.  When they do, they will carry on the faith to another generation, teaching as they have been taught.  The methods change with the times;  the message is eternal, and therefore eternally up to date.

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« Reply #51 on: March 31, 2006, 05:09:21 AM »

March 31

Mustard
Mat_13:31-32

One of the most beautiful road trips in the world is along California Highway 101—"El Camino Real", the King's Highway.  It was so named during the time of the Spanish, but the name might still be appropriate.  Look along the side of that road and you will often see a green plant, about four to five feet high, bearing yellow small yellow flowers.

That's mustard.  It was originally brought to California by the priests who founded the Missions of California.  Father Serra used to scatter the seed on his way from one mission to another—to mark the path for next year.  That path is now Highway 101.  Mustard marks the path of the King's Highway.

That is fitting, for our Lord and King chose the mustard as a symbol of his kingdom.  Why?

It is a small seed;  the smallest of seeds in an herb garden of the time.  Christ started his church with just a few men.  The word in the parable means a single seed.

It grows.  It does not spring up by magic, or by force, or by brilliance of philosophy.  It grows—rapidly.   The early church did too.

It grows where it is planted.  The church has always had evangelists and missionaries to plant the tiny mustard seed of faith in new places.  Father Serra was one, for example.

When it grows, it becomes quite large.  Did you know that both Los Angeles and San Francisco were founded as missions?  The church grows like that too.

God has a taste for the small and the weak.  Look back into the Old Testament:
Moses explaining how his brother was really the man for the job;  David's father Jesse, so sure that David wasn't the one that he didn't even bother to tell him to come in; many others as well.  God chose them so that his greatness might be seen in their smallness.  So he chose the mustard seed as the symbol for the smallness of his church and the greatness of his church soon to be.

But mustard has another quality:  it is pungent and irritating.  The church is a shelter for all who come to her, but an irritant to the world around her.  She brings forth the truth in an age of fraud.  It puts the question to us:  we may be small, but are we growing?  We may be few, but are we pungent with the truth?  If we are, like mustard, we will mark the way for many yet to come.

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« Reply #52 on: April 01, 2006, 05:52:18 PM »

April 1

Yeast
Mat_13:33-35

One of the delights of my younger years was a plate of sourdough pancakes.  To make this dish, you must first have a sourdough starter.  These come from Alaska, where the pancakes originated, and it is said that a prospector would preserve this starter after eating everything else.  The starter is made this way:  the original starter is placed in a bowl with most of the ingredients, and left to permeate them, like yeast does bread.  This then makes the new starter.  The last ingredients are added, and the process begins again.

Now, the kingdom of heaven is like that.

The quality of your pancakes is determined by the starter—the original sourdough.  So it is that the quality of a church is determined by its leaders, those who start it.  The closer their doctrine to that of Christ, the better.

Only a small amount needs to be used.  Christ started with twelve men who turned the world upside down.  Just as the starter converts the raw ingredients into its own kind, so the church, starting with but a few, changes the world around it.

The starter is mixed throughout the ingredients.  In its early days, the church was scattered throughout the known world by persecution.  At the time this was thought to be an evil thing—but look what God did with it!  This scattering produced the spread of the Gospel.

That "starter" -  that set of churches—has continued to multiply to this day.  The method is the same:  the church selects a few who are to go out and start a new congregation, whether in a new land or just in a new area.  Then that church becomes a starter as well.

But not all starters go this way.  Sourdough starter makes an excellent gift, but if the cook leaves it sit in the refrigerator long enough, it will go stale—and it will not work.  The secret is to continually allow the starter to permeate a new batch of ingredients.  We, as Christians, must do the same.  It is of no use to come to church on Sunday if we will not spread the Gospel.  We cannot contain the starter in our refrigerator without it going stale.

Sourdough pancakes—a great delight to the taste—are like the good works of the church.  They come only from the active use of the starter—the spread of the Gospel.  How's your starter?  Stale, or fresh and ready to grow?

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« Reply #53 on: April 03, 2006, 06:26:56 AM »

April 3

Hidden Treasure
Mat_13:44

Say the words, "Hidden Treasure," and the tale of Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, comes to mind.  There is something fascinating to the human mind about buried treasure, and Christ uses that fascination here to describe the kingdom of heaven.

It is hidden from the world.  The world at large sees the church as a building, a social club, and wonders what all the fuss could be about.  Why are these people so serious about this?  Until you discover it, it is hidden.

You didn't earn the treasure.  This is the source of the magic in the tale.  By ourselves, our ability to become rich is limited.  But suppose we stumbled across that casket!  It is extremely valuable, satisfying all our wants.  How many of us have longed to be extremely rich!

But you must seek it out.  Stevenson's adventurers had to take ship and go to the island, following the map.  We too must seek out the kingdom of heaven, diligently searching the Scriptures for the words of life.

Then you must hide it again.  Even Stevenson knew that;  the treasure was moved and buried again.  But for us, the matter is simpler.  We must hide this treasure in our hearts.

It will cost you all you have.  The picture is a vivid one.  The poor man sells all he has to buy this one field—and hopes not to raise suspicion in doing it.  We too must give all we have to the kingdom, for God wants all of us—heart, soul, mind and strength.

It will bring you great joy.  Imagine your life if you suddenly found Blackbeard's treasure chest.  Suddenly freed from the shackles of your situation, what would you do?  The answers are many, but one thing is certain:  it would definitely change your life.  So it is with the kingdom of God, the hidden treasure—your life will change completely.

The remaining number of buried pirate treasures is somewhat limited, and their whereabouts seems to be rather poorly documented.  But the kingdom of heaven is infinite in its availability;  it is open to all who will come.  Its whereabouts are well known.  Even pirate treasure takes some digging.  The treasures of heaven will cost you all you have—and more than worth it.

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« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2006, 02:36:51 PM »

April 5

Dragnet
Mat_13:47-50

The picture would have been familiar to the commercial fisherman—then and now.  The net in question is a seine, and in this time was drawn by two boats.  The purpose is simple:  scoop up all the fish in a given part of the waters, and sort them out on deck.  In some ways the method is still used today.

The fact that two boats were used led many ancient writers to compare the dragnet to the Old and New Testaments.  These are the handles;  the net is composed of what is written therein.

Some of us are caught by the prophecies.  How can we know that this Jesus is truly the Son of God?  We can look back into the Old Testament and see the prophecies made many hundreds of years before his arrival, and how they were fulfilled by Jesus.  Upon that faith, we can then look forward to his return, knowing what awaits the righteous and the evil.

Some of us care nothing for prophecy—but everything for forgiveness.  Where else is forgiveness and cleansing found but in our Lord?  Other religions proclaim a standard of righteousness, or tell us that guilt doesn't matter;  this is the faith that meets the deepest need of the sinful soul—forgiveness.

Others are attracted by the wisdom and righteousness portrayed in the Scripture.  When something is true, we often say it "holds water," or there are "no holes in it."  The Scriptures are like that—a net with no holes, catching all.

Our Lord tells us the kingdom of God is like that net.  We can see that in the church.  There is no such thing as the "typical Christian."  We are taken from almost every tribe, nation, land and tongue in the world.  There are Christians who are rich, and of course many more who are poor.  From the highest levels of society to the lowest, some will find the faith.

Interestingly, we also have our share of gar.  Gar?  Gar is a fish which—while it puts up a game fight—is not fit to eat.  A fisherman with rod and reel hates gar, because they eat your bait and take up your time—for nothing.  We have the same.  Those who are inside the building but not in the church.  Hypocrites, half believers, hangers-on—the list is long.  But the time is coming when these will be separated from the true church.  At the end of the age, our Lord promises, these will be cast out.  So, if you're in church just because your school of fish swam in, remember:  there's a net at the end.

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« Reply #55 on: April 08, 2006, 07:46:58 AM »

April 6

The Householder

Mat_13:51-52

The parable may be confusing to some, for most of us no longer have a storeroom.  But we usually have a garage.

Buried in the depths of my garage are tools old and new.  There are tools handed down to me by my father which he got from his father;  there are tools (somewhere in there) that I just purchased.  But their age doesn't matter—only their usefulness.

So it is with the Scriptures.  Jesus pictures here a scribe, somewhat like Ezra.  This is a man who spends his life studying what we now call the Old Testament.  Now God, in the form of man, brings out a New Testament.  The good scribe, understanding this, now adds to the treasures he already had these new things.  In this we see that the Old Testament is not to be neglected.

But it is not sufficient simply to read the Scripture.  The pipes will not be repaired just by finding that old plumber's wrench.  You must use the tools given to you.  What, then, are the uses of the Old Testament?

Example.  Most of us can remember a precept, but we learn by example.  Consider David, the King.  Is there any better example of the trouble caused by chasing another man's wife?  Or Elijah.  What a comfort to know that he, too, had his doubts.   The Old Testament paints these characters with their warts so that we may learn from them.

Precept.  If we learn by example, we keep the memory sharp by precept.  The pithy sayings of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes—books that must be read a verse at a time—stick in the mind.  Do you remember that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people?

Expression.  Did you ever go into a card shop to find a card to express just the right sentiments?  You borrow someone else's words to express your feelings.

Now, have you ever wanted to do that with God?  That's what the Psalms are for.
Building the faith.  From the prophecies fulfilled to the stories of courage and truth, the Old Testament is a witness to the righteousness, goodness and omnipotence of God.

The Scriptures are a treasure house, full of good things old and new.  But like the tools in the garage, they are of no use until they are brought out.  So then—do you bring these good things out of the Scripture and into your life—and use them?

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« Reply #56 on: April 08, 2006, 07:48:41 AM »

April 7

Calming the Sea

Mar_4:35-41

How we admire the spirit which is calm and cool in crisis!  It always seems to belong to someone extraordinary;  here is the prime example.  Calm flows from Jesus to the sea.

Note, please, that the calm is centered in Jesus Himself.  Why is he so calm?
He has complete confidence in God the Father.  So many of us say we believe he is omnipotent—and then act like he's helpless.  Jesus knows better.

He has complete confidence in his relationship with God.  He knows he is the Son, and that God's will is to be worked out in him.  "No water can swallow the ship where lies the master of ocean and earth and sky."

He has demonstrated this—in the most practical way—by going to sleep.  It is his way to leave these things to God.  As an old friend once told me, "You might as well give your troubles to God.  He's going to be up all night anyway."

The calm itself shows us much about the nature of Jesus as the Son of God:
By his voice he calmed the sea.  Is this not the agent of creation, who spoke and the worlds began?

The calm comes at once.  There is no argument, no rebellion by the universe against its creator.

Jesus couples this with their faith.  He makes it clear that their lack of faith brought the trouble on—and his faith took care of it.

For us, this passage gives us a clear picture of the choices we face as Christians in this age:

We can go through life in fear, blaming God every time something goes wrong.
We can rest in faith, and let the Lord of All calm the seas of our lives.

But the choice is made not with words but with faith.  Our actions in trusting Him make the difference.

The difference is not just for ourselves.  Read the passage again and you will see that there were other boats with them that night.  No doubt the squall affected them the same way.  By your calm faith you may save not only your boat, but those of many others.

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« Reply #57 on: April 08, 2006, 07:50:22 AM »

April 8

A Shocking Carelessness

Mar_5:1-20

The subject of demons tantalizes the modern Christian.  Satan's ploy to modern man is that he does not exist, and therefore God doesn't either.  It's a different tale in third world countries.

There are some things we can learn from this story about the demons:

It's quite evident they know who Jesus really is—and it frightens them.  The fright is due to His power and their sin.

It seems you torment a devil by taking his plaything away from him—the body of a mortal man.

They can do nothing without God's permission;  as you see, they had to beg to go into the pigs.

In a curious sense, most of us think that if encountered one genuine demon, our faith would be greatly increased.   It would be proof that passages like this are reasonable.  But notice something:  the locals here needed no such proof—and they asked Jesus to leave the area as quickly as possible!  Why?

There is a rule in cartoons:  the bomb in the package never goes off—until you look into the package and have time for a double take.  There is something of a double take here, too.  The Son of Man seems a reasonable teacher—but then reveals an immense power and holiness.  Perhaps the fear of God had struck them, and they realized who they were talking to.

Sadly, it is more likely that they are more concerned with pigs than with people.  It's nice that the local crazy is now in his right mind, but what about my three thousand pigs?

Dorothy Sayers said that Jesus had a "shocking carelessness in the matter of other peoples pigs and property."  Perhaps this is because he sees us as the stewards of his property, rather than as the owners.  After all, he is the agent of creation through whom all things were made.  Those pigs came from his power.  We often think that God has given dominion over the earth to us.  He did—to Adam in the garden.  After the fall you get stewardship.  Dominion is for the sinless.

How do you see your property?  God has blessed you with certain abilities;  you have used those abilities to acquire material things.  Sometimes you get "lucky" - or blessed.  He is the true owner of all;  you're just the steward.  (If you think not, check back after your funeral).  So, how are you using his property?

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« Reply #58 on: April 10, 2006, 05:51:20 AM »

April 9

My Little Daughter

Mar_5:21-43

Daughters are different—to fathers.  My daughter needed delicate brain surgery at age five months.  This was the precious child that almost cost my wife's life during birth, the one I sang to in her first cradle.  To watch her going into surgery was almost unbearable.  I know how this man Jairus felt, for I went to the Lord that day too, asking for my little girl's life.

He had to overcome a great deal of pride and dignity.  He was a ruler of the synagogue, a man of prominence.  From this position of privilege and power he started.  Fathers are supposed to be calm and in control, dignified—but not this day.

He had to go through the barriers of prejudice.  Jesus was from Galilee ("the sticks" to us).  He was not a noted rabbi but an itinerant preacher.  It is likely he had only heard of Jesus.  The surgeon was unknown to me until the need for the surgery came up.  Could I trust my little girl to this unknown doctor?

The ruler came through all this to fall at Jesus' feet—and beg.  For we know that when we go to the throne of grace, it is not on our own merit, but on his compassion and mercy that our pleas must rest.
He did so in faith.

Notice something:  Jesus' words are "Don't be afraid; just believe."  These are words of comfort and encouragement.  Before the healing comes the comfort.  Our Lord cares not only for the little ones but for each of us.

Mark has probably taken this story from Peter, for it rings with the details of the eyewitness account.  The crowd laughs, and Jesus puts them out.  His command to the girl, quoted in the original Aramaic and translated for us, so we can hear the sound of it.  Jesus' instruction to give her a little food, a little kindness unrelated to the miracle.  The mind's eye can see it clearly.

Turn that mind's eye now to the subject of death.  The crowd, the ruler's friends, all thought death was the end.  Nothing could be done.  But this time things were different, for the Author of Life was present.  His view of death is very different from ours.  He is not the god of the dead, but the God of the Living.  He tells us that we shall rise again in a new and glorious form.  He ought to know.  Why then, do we persist in fearing death?  It has lost its sting, at the Cross, and will one day be completely defeated.  Praise God!

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« Reply #59 on: April 10, 2006, 05:52:53 AM »

April 10

Who Touched Me?

Mar_5:25-34

Have you ever noticed that some medical procedures are worn like a badge of honor, and others discreetly hushed up?  You can get a man to tell you about his triple bypass operation, show you some of the scars and complain long and loud of the hospital food.  But there are some medical problems which we consider just a little too delicate to make public.  When the prayer requests are passed around, they usually ask us to pray for someone's "condition" - without a word as to what it is.

We do not need to know the specific condition to pray, of course;  and there is much to be said for not being nosy.  But it reminds us that pain from illness may not be entirely physical, but also emotional.  This woman certainly had that pain:

This illness made her ceremonially unclean.  She was therefore forbidden to go to the synagogue or Temple to worship God.  She was without the comfort that comes from this.

More than that, if anyone touched her, he or she was unclean until evening.  So she would be politely—"Nothing personal, you understand" - ostracized.

She was a woman who was not only ill, going broke from it but also alone.  Jesus knew this—did you really think he did not know who touched him?  He knew!  His purpose was more than healing her physical illness:

What she did in secret, he brought into the light—so that all would know that she was healed, and no longer to be ostracized.

He calls her "daughter" - a term of affection, showing that she is welcome in his presence.

He commends her faith, showing that she is approved in the way she comes to God.
The purpose of Christ was to heal her completely, not just physically.  Do we accept the purpose of Christ?  For those whose illnesses make them less than socially acceptable, do we welcome them into our presence?  This is hard.  We may think we will not know what to say, or how to act.  What do you say to a person who has cerebral palsy, or Parkinson's disease?  Can you speak to someone who has AIDS?

Our Lord did.  If we are to be true children of our heavenly Father, let us imitate our Lord in this—so that "whosoever will," can come.

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