Tour Guide

Whenever you go to visit a place you’ve never been to before, you might hire a tour guide to take you around and show you the sights and sounds of the place you are visiting. The reason why you would want a tour guide is because they can show you things you would never have thought of seeing because they have been to places you’ve never been to before.

You wouldn’t want to hire someone who has never been to the place before because they wouldn’t be able to take you where you’ve never been. They wouldn’t know where to direct you. They wouldn’t know where to lead you. They wouldn’t know where to guide you.

Mark records an interesting encounter between Jesus and a blind man that takes place in Bethsaida. This is what Mark writes:

“They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26 NIV)

Every time I read this encounter, I always wonder why Jesus took the blind man out of the city away from the crowd. I don’t think that it was because Jesus was crowd shy because He always performed miracles in front of the crowds. I don’t think it was because Jesus felt insecure. I don’t even believe it was because Jesus thought He was incapable of restoring the blind man’s sight. So why was it? Why did Jesus lead the man away from the crowd and out of the city? Why didn’t Jesus just heal the man right then and there?

Mark doesn’t tell us how long this man was blind but we can assume it was from birth and because of that this man probably had never been outside of Bethsaida. With that in mind, Jesus led this man to a place he had never been to before. Therefore, I believe the reason why Jesus took this man out of the city was to make a point that in order to be taken to a place in our life that we’ve never been before we need to trust Jesus to guide us there even though we can’t see where He is leading us. Jesus can lead us to the place we’ve never been because, just like a tour guide, He has already been to the place we’ve have never been.

Have the faith to trust Jesus to lead you even when you can’t see where you’re going. See if you are not taken to places in your life that you’ve never been to before and that you could have only imagined.

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No Vacancy

I took a last minute road trip to Sussex, New Jersey one time where I had to stay over one night. Instead of booking a hotel room, since it was last minute, I figured I would take my chances and hope that there would be a room available for me to stay. To my dismay, when I arrived at Sussex, there happened to be only one hotel and it was all booked up. The sign outside the hotel read “No Vacancy” indicating that there was no room available.

There is a story in 2 Kings 4 about the prophet Elisha and his encounter with a Shunammite woman. Elisha would regularly visit the town of Shunem and would stay there for a while. The Shunammite woman convinced Elisha to come and eat at her house. Since there was no place for Elisha to stay, she made a small room for Elisha so that he could turn in there whenever he was passing on through.

Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, pointed out that this woman could not make Elisha stay at her house but she made room for him to do so. Pastor Furtick went on to say “I can’t make God move in my life but I can make room for Him to move in my life.”

So many times it’s not a matter of whether or not God wants to move in our lives but it’s because we have not made any room available for Him to move in our lives. We fail to set aside time for Him to move. Whether it’s because we are consumed by chasing after that dream job with the corner office with the view overlooking the city or whether it’s because we are so wrapped up in extracurricular activities. I believe God wants to move mightily on our behalf but every time He does He sees a no vacancy sign. Instead of being consumed with our desires, we need to make room for God’s desires.

Take down the no vacancy sign in your life and make room for God to move today.

Person Not Principle

Many of us today believe the Bible is a book about certain do’s and don’t’s. Some of you may have even heard the acronym for the word Bible as basic instructions before leaving earth.

I used to agree with that until recently I heard a message from Judah Smith, Senior Pastor of The City Church, that changed my perspective. In his message, he said that the Bible is not a book of principles but is a book about a person and that person is Jesus. He went on to say that if we would look for Jesus then the mystery of the scriptures would be revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

We see an example of this in Luke 24. There are these two guys walking down a road talking to each other when Jesus suddenly appears and starts walking down the road with them. They walk about seven miles until they reach the place where these guys were staying and this is what Luke records:

“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45 NKJV)

These guys didn’t know who it was that was walking down the road with them and they didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them or what the scriptures said. It wasn’t until they saw Jesus for who He really is that they begun to understand the scriptures.

So if you are having trouble understanding what the Bible says, maybe it’s because you are looking for principles. Start looking for a person, Jesus, and see if your eyes are not opened to the promises of God in your life. Stop looking for principles and start looking for a person.

Only God

Many times in my life, instead of seeking after God, I would try to do something on my own only to fall flat on my face. Every time I would attempt something different or try something else in order to accomplish what I had set out to do, it would fall apart.

You have probably ran into the same problem. You are probably wondering why nothing seems to be working.

David gives us the answer in Psalm 136:

“Only God works great miracles. God’s love never fails.”(Psalm 136:4 CEV)

David realized that there are somethings in life that only God can do. So many times in life we get trapped into attempting to do something that only God can do. We need to be willing to step aside, let go, and let God.

Only God can save your family and friends. Only God can heal your marriage. Only God can break the yoke of your addiction. Only God can bring back your prodigal son or daughter. Only God can turn your finances around. Only God can deliver. Only God can set free. Only God can raise somebody from death to life. Only God can do whatever it is that you need Him to do. Only God.

Benefits Package

For those of you who have ever worked a full time job, you remember all the paper work you had to fill out as soon as you were hired. Some of that paperwork consisted of what is called a benefits package. Most benefits packages consist of health care, eye care, dental care, and maybe like a fitness membership. This would be things that the company would provide for being a part of their team.

As sons and daughters of God, we are provided a benefits package. Because of God’s great love for us, He lavishes us with His benefits. David writes about them in Psalm 103:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:1-22 ESV)

David reminds himself to not forget the benefits that he has in God. He begins to list off all God’s benefits. How He forgives. How He heals, How He redeems. How He crowns. How He satisfies. How He is merciful. How He is gracious. How He is compassionate. How He loves.

So next time you are discouraged, depressed, or distraught; remember the benefits you have in God. How He has forgiven you. How He has healed you. How He has redeemed you. How He has crowned you with life. How He has satisfied you. How He has been merciful to you. How He has been gracious to you. How He has been compassionate to you. And how He has loved you.

Authoritative Figure

If I were to go out in the middle of the road and put my hand up in an attempt to stop traffic, chances are I would either get run over or would have to jump out of the way in an effort to avoid the cars barreling down on me. However if my brother were to attempt to do the same thing, the cars would end up stopping for him. The difference being because my brother is a police officer. He has been given the authority by the state of South Carolina to stop or direct traffic. My brother has no power to stop a car on his own, but because the of authority he has been given, cars will stop.

Jesus said in Luke 10:

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19 NIV)

You have been given the authority to overcome anything that comes against you in life. So many times in life, we succumb to things that we have the authority over. Just like my brother  is able to stop traffic because of the authority that has been given him, you are able to stop the attacks of the enemy in your life because of the authority given to you by Jesus.

You can stop the storm that tries to rage against you. You can stop the waves from crashing down on you. You can stop the wind from tossing you about. You can stop poverty dead in its tracks. You can stop sickness from attacking you. You can stop depression from rising up in your life. You can stop despair right where it is.

Don’t give up the right that you have to the enemy anymore. Take authority today in Jesus.

Called > Qualified

Have you ever felt inadequate? Have you ever thought that you couldn’t do what God has called you to do? Have you every felt insecure?

I have been there. There was plenty of times where I thought I wasn’t capable of doing what God has called me to. I didn’t have the proper skill set. I didn’t have the required training. I didn’t have the necessary education. I didn’t have any experience. You have probably wrestled with the same things.

As I was thinking about this I remembered what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV)

I can stand on this promise that I don’t have to be able because the One who called me is able. Rev. Michael Beckwith said it this way “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

We see this truth throughout scripture. Abraham was an idol worshiper. Jacob was a deceiver. Moses had a speech impediment. David was an adulterer. Peter had a temper. Paul, the one who wrote that verse in Thessalonians, was a murderer. None of these people were qualified to do what God had called them to do, but they accomplished what God had set out for them to do. Abraham became the father of many nations. From Jacob came the nation of Israel. Moses delivered the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. David became king of Israel and is known as a man after God’s own heart. Peter started the church. Paul spread the gospel throughout the known world and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament.

So if you are feeling inadequate. If you are feeling incapable. If you think that you can’t do what God has called you to. Be encouraged that He who called you is faithful. He is able. He will do it.

Do You Want To?

Out of all of the miracles performed by Jesus recorded in the Bible, all but one of them were initiated by the faith and desire of the people wanting to be healed or wanting the person they brought to Jesus to be healed. In some cases the disciples even had to hold people back because of their persistence to get to Jesus. Although there is one instance that John writes about where Jesus initiated the action.

This instance is about a man who had been sitting beside a pool of healing for 38 years. He had been sitting in the condition that he was in for nearly four decades without doing anything about it. Jesus sees the man lying there and this is what He says to him:

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6 ESV)

This is a very interesting question Jesus asks this man. It seems obvious that this man would want to be healed. So why did Jesus ask him this question? In every other situation, there is no question about what the person or people want to be done. In every other circumstance, people are straining to get to Jesus in order to be healed. In every other instance, people not only said that they wanted something from Jesus but also put action to their words.

I believe this man really wanted to be healed. But wanting and desiring something doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s only when your passion is converted into pursuit that you will achieve what you want and desire. It’s only when you put feet to your faith that you will obtain your goals and dreams. James, the brother of Jesus who saw this whole interaction between Jesus and this man take place, wrote that faith without works is dead (See James 2:17). In other words, James is saying that you can say all you want and believe all you want, but if you never act upon it, it does you no good.

I believe Jesus is asking us the same question today. I believe He hears our cries but then sees us lying in our mess not doing anything about it. I believe He sees our passion but there is no pursuit to go with it. I believe He sees our faith but there is no feet leaping into action.

So I’m asking you “Do you want to ________?” You fill in the blank.

Necessary Adjustments

After playing the game of baseball for over 20 years and coaching for over 5 years there is one thing that I’ve learned to be true. You could have perfect mechanics and be doing everything right, but still not have success. And the reason for that is because, although your mechanics and technique might be good, your approach is wrong and you need to make some necessary adjustments.

I believe the same is true for the church today. Andy Stanley hit on this point in his message he spoke at the NewSpring Leadership Conference this past Thursday. He used what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth when he said:

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV)

Paul was willing to change his approach and make the necessary adjustments in order that he might reach the people he was preaching to. The gospel that Paul preached never changed just the way he presented it did.

The church today seems to be so caught up in their customs and traditions that they are not willing to change their approach in order to reach those that are far from Christ. Our message should never change but we should adjust our approach and presentation. Our theology remains the same just our methodology should change.

I heard a certain pastor tell a story of the struggle he had with his congregation when he was trying to make the necessary adjustments in order to reach the next generation. He finally got up one Sunday and asked the grandparents and parents in the congregation if they would die for their kids and grand kids. Without hesitation they responded with a resounding yes. Then he said but you won’t allow me to change the music or move the organ in order to reach them.

Let us not be so consumed with our customs and traditions that we are not willing to make the necessary adjustments in order to reach those far from Christ. Let us be like Paul and change our approach so that we can reach our family and friends. Let us become all things to all men in order that we might save as many as possible.

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