The last few days before the crucifixion of Jesus must have been very perplexing to the disciples. They had expected that Jesus might set up an earthly kingdom. Instead, He keeps talking about leaving and they won’t know where He is going and they can’t come with Him now. What could Jesus possibly mean that they would not see Him for “a little while” and then they would see Him? What could He mean by saying they couldn’t come now, but they would come to Him later. Jesus could have been referring to two events. “A little while” could be the 3 days He will be in the grave. But since God is not bound by the way we measure time and since He said that He was “going to the Father”, the little while could be from then until the Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost. Either way, it was a disturbing and sad time for them. A time that we will never have to endure. Since God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each of us that accepts Jesus as our Savior, we will never be without Him. We will never be alone. I am reminded of the old hymn “Have Faith in God”
Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely. He sees and knows all the way you have trod; Never alone are the least of His children; Have faith in God, have faith in God.”
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus had just healed this blind man by making mud with dirt and His own spit. Can you imagine anyone in today’s society allowing Jesus to put that compress on their eyes? Can you imagine how many lawsuits Jesus would have been faced with because of His actions? How many shots and vaccines would this man have been advised to take because the spit of Jesus had touched his skin? Even back then, Jesus and the once-blind man had to suffer rejection and persecution because Jesus did this good deed on the Sabbath. It is not recorded that even one person besides the blind man himself, was excited and happy for him. When called by the Pharisees, even his parents refused to stand up for him because they feared rejection themselves. Isn’t still that way today? When we see good things happen to people, don’t we question and doubt? Don’t we try to tear down rather than build up? Don’t we look for hidden reasons that this happened? After all, it is just smoke and mirrors, right? As long as we think we can see, we will not ask for sight. As long as we trust our own intelligence, we will not ask for God’s wisdom. We, like the Pharisees and religious leaders will remain blind and ignorant because we claim we can see and understand when we cannot even imagine what God has in store for us. Not just in the sweet by and by in heaven, but right here and right now. We must ask God to open our eyes to see and our hearts and minds to believe so that we can access all the power and wisdom that He wants to give us.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. — Mark 8:23-25 NLT
John tells us that if all the miracles that Jesus did were written down, all the books in the world would not be enough to hold them (John 21:25). What we read about is a sampling of the things He accomplished while He walked the earth as one of us. Those samples are given to show us not only His great love and mercy toward us but, also to show us that He uses all kinds of methods and people to demonstrate that love. Sometimes the healing was immediate, sometimes they were a process. Some required only a touch of the hem of His garment, others required a word and others a word and a touch from Him. He has the authority to answer our requests in any way or time frame He chooses. But know this, He always answers. Just because the answer wasn’t what we wanted to hear or did not come in the expected time does not mean that He didn’t hear and answer. Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. Paul could have said that God didn’t answer his prayer, but after the third time, Paul accepted “No” as the answer. God’s answers can be compared to a traffic light, green is “go”, yellow is “go slow” and red is “no”. We always want the green light, but when we have the red light, it gives others the opportunity to move. We must wait our turn. When we see the yellow light, we know that there is danger in proceeding, so we must be careful and prepare to wait, but be prepared to go when God gives us the green light. (Isaiah 40:31) The old saying that hindsight is 20-20 is true. When we look back over our lives, we can see clearly that God’s answer was the correct answer. The times we refused that answer is the times we experienced our troubles and sorrows.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! — Psalm 66:16-20 NIV
There are thousands of books written in an attempt to make us feel better about ourselves. Do this and get rich, do this and influence people, do this and look better. Money, power and good looks do not come with bags of joy that can be opened at any time we need to feel good. All of these things are external and have nothing to do with the real problems of today.
The changes we need are from the inside out. It isn’t our natural diet that makes us who we are, contrary to what we have been told, we are not what we eat. The diet that determines whether we will be full of peace and joy is our Spiritual diet. Be filled with the Holy Spirit! The third person of the Trinity really is a person. He abides inside us to give us all the peace, joy and hope we need or desire. He knows our every need and is waiting patiently to give it to each of us. He weeps with us and when our hearts are broken, so is His. He feels the pain that we feel and He wants to restore our joy and hope when we are down and out. We need to learn to praise God and tell others what He has done for us. While we are praising Him, we will find that our joy will start to flow out from us to those around us. Praise and pray! God hears the praises and the prayers. He will not reject our prayers or withdraw His love from us. Eat your fill of Spiritual food each day, it is non-fattening, fulfilling and it purges us, pushing out all the sadness, worry and fears. Start with a taste and soon you will find that it takes a lot of Spiritual goodness to keep you satisfied!
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. —Psalm 34:8
1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV
Do you remember the first time in your life that “you tasted that the Lord is good”?
I actually don’t remember the date but I do remember that it was about 9 in the morning on a hot summer day and I could take you to the exact place that the Holy Spirit miraculously moved in my life and “saved me to the uttermost”. Tears of joy and relief streamed down my face so much that I had to stop on the side of the road and just praise God for His goodness. Since that time I have not lived a sinless life but I can tell you that when I do sin, it grieves the Holy Spirit, breaks the heart of God Himself and now, thanks to His enduring goodness, faithfulness and mercy, it breaks my heart as well.
His love motivates me to rid myself of all malice and sin of any and every kind. When I pray and receive the forgiveness that Jesus bought for me on Calvary, I taste again and again of His goodness and mercy. I crave His Word and a day without it would be a dark, dreary and lonely day. My heart’s desire is to know Him more and more every day. I look forward to the day when I can move from the “milk” of the Word to the “meat” of the Word, so I might grow to be the mature son He wants me to be. Nothing less and nothing more.
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. 5 But while I am still here in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!—John 9:1-7 (NLT)
In those times, the people thought that physical ailments meant that you or someone in your family had sinned and the problems were God’s way of punishing them. This was why the disciples asked the question, “why was this man born blind?”. Jesus explains to them that his blindness is not caused by a particular sin of either the man or his parents. After all, how could a person sin before they were even born? This blindness was another evil thing that occurred because sin was a still in the world. But Jesus used the evil for good to demonstrate the power of God against such things. People are still asking the same question today, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer is the same, sin is still at work in the world. But Jesus can still use those situations to show the power and the glory of God. All of us are born spiritually blind and we still need Jesus, “the Light of the world” to open our eyes. But rejoice! The day is soon coming when all these evil and bad things will be gone! That day could be tomorrow! 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies
He is coming to save you”.
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.–Isaiah 35:4-6 (NLT)
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.”—John 1:35-39 (NLT)
Do you ever sit and think about the time you answered the call of the Holy Spirit to “come and see”? Come and see the forgiveness of God, come and see the goodness of God, come and see the love of God. Come and see with your spiritual eyes, the One Who gave His life for you on a cross? Do you remember that experience? Do you remember when you invited Jesus into your heart? Do you remember the peace you felt? Do you remember just wanting to stay in His presence. just as the men “remained with Jesus all that day”? When times are tough and the going is rough, I would like to invite you to sit and remember that experience. Just sit in the presence of Jesus, loving Him and allowing Him to love you. The most amazing thing about knowing Jesus is that every day, we can “come and see”. Or as the Psalmist said, “taste and see”; 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!—Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
And when we do that, we find that His mercies are new every morning. Today, once again, take the time “to come and see”.
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.–Colossians 2:6,7 (NLT)
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.–Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)
How many times a day do we thank God for His goodness and blessings? Were you filled with joy at the dawn of a new day? Did you say, “good morning, Lord!” or “good Lord, it’s morning!”? Did you thank Him for keeping you safe through the night? Did you thank Him that you have eyes that can see the light of dawn? Did you thank Him that you have ears to hear the birds singing? Did you thank Him that you live in a country such as ours? Did you thank Him for the clothes you wear and also the clothes that you will probably never wear again? You don’t think that it is necessary to thank God everyday? Did you know that a lot of God’s anger at the children of Israel was because of their ingratitude for all that He had done for them? And He has done so much more for us. Do a word search and see how many times the words, “thank”. “thankful” and words that have similar meanings appears throughout the Bible. We should always be thankful because we could lose all these good things in a second.
Ephasians 2: 4 But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. 6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed. 8-9 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. 10 For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. (The Voice)
We, as Christians should always remain humble realizing that we did not do anything to earn our salvation. It is impossible to earn or pay for a free gift. God loved us so much that He became as a man and died for us paying our sin debt in full. And that is just the beginning of the story. If we follow His teachings and become a disciple, there is much more that we can enjoy here on earth. God is all about the present and the eternity. We are told in John 10:10, that Jesus came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. And we can do nothing to earn those gifts, either. He gives them to us of His own free will. We receive peace, security, and joy from the same benevolence that borught us salvation. This was mentioned as far back as Isaiah in Chapter 12, Verse 2: Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” And He freely gives us all things that pertain to life: 2 Peter 1:2-4 (NKJV)
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
So, salvation is not just for the future, it has benefits right now and right here.
Psalm 34:7-9 (NKJV)
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
As we progress through life, we all pick up references from different sources. These sources can be environomental, familial, societal, or experiential. For example, have you ever tried to describe the taste of celery to anyone who has never tasted celery? To what would you compare it? You can’t just say that it tastes good or bad, since you don’t have a reference for the other person’s taste buds. These references cause us to form opinions about the things and the people that we see and meet along the way. So, when we meet someone that has had different experiences, we need to determine if we are looking at the world through the same set of glasses. When I say I am hungry, I usually just mean that I haven’t eaten in the last few hours. When a destitute person says they are hungry, it could very well mean that they haven’t eaten for days. So, the references we have had and the opinions we have based on those references cause us to see the world from different perspectives.
Think about the word “beautiful” and what comes to mind? For some, it is mountains, for others, it is seascapes, and to a hungry person, fields of grain could be the most beautiful sight in the world. I like what John Cage had to say about “beuatiful”—“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is ‘why do I think it’s not beautiful?’. And very shortly I discover that there is no reason.”
Does this mean that everything in the world is beautiful? No, of course not, hunger, violence, abuse, and prejudices are not meant to be beautiful. That brings us to the real question. How do we perceive and respond to those who think these things are beautiful?