Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Faith not disbelief

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”     
                                                                                                                     Mark 2.5

The friends of the paralytic man had brought him to Jesus for healing. Because they could not get him close to Jesus, they climbed to the roof of the building and made a hole in the roof through which they lowered the man to Jesus below. Such daring and enterprise was seen by Jesus as evidence of their faith. He responded by pronouncing immediate forgiveness of sins on the paralytic.

The next instance that Mark records is the disbelief and criticism of the ‘teachers of the law’. What a contrast this is to the faith that has just been displayed. Jesus responds to their negativity with the positive act of healing the paralytic, showing that He has the power both to forgive sins and to command healing. The reaction of the onlookers is one of amazement and praise. Hallelujah!

In this clear contrast between faith and disbelief, I want to embrace faith. I note also that faith is demonstrated. Jesus responded to the paralytic and his friends because He saw the evidence of their faith. May this also be with me!

Lord God,

I thank You for this further insight. I claim the way of faith. I declare, “I believe”, and I ask You to help me to overcome any unbelief that might arise, or seek to arise, at any time.

I pray also that my faith be demonstrated and that the evidence of faith may be clearly seen in my life. May my lamp be placed on a stand from which the light of Jesus is clearly seen shining forth.                                                                                                                           Amen.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Night and day

Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know.                                           Mark 4.27

Jesus uses the beautiful example of seed sprouting and growing in the ground to illustrate the power of the gospel message growing in an individual.

Man does not plant the seed of the gospel. This is God’s work. Jesus tells us, quite clearly, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6.44). God plants the seed that begins His drawing of the individual to Jesus.

Man does not cause the seed to grow. God, likewise, does this. The wonder of growth is contained in the seed itself. This is God’s doing also and it is part of His plan. In the same way, Jesus shows us that the gospel may grow in power in an individual, leading to a mighty harvest for the Kingdom.

God alone brings about this growth. He is not reliant on the believer in this, yet the individual can advance this process or not. A person whose heart is open wide to God’s working is like soil that is well watered and cultivated. The seed will likely experience greater growth in good soil, and God’s Word will grow greatly in the heart that is truly open to receive.

Lord God,

Receive my open heart. Enter in fullness and may Your power grow and grow in me. Use me in the fullest exercise of the power of Your Word.

Let me burn with yearning for the lost to be found, and to enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Empower me to witness for Jesus in love, strength and grace. Enable me to reach many. Allow me to be effective for You, in Jesus’ Name I ask.                                          Amen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Even the dogs

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7.28

In telling the woman that the children must eat first Jesus is effectively saying that His mission and ministry is primarily to the Jews. But the Gentile woman responds with a willingness to accept what is left over. Jesus heals her daughter in response to the faith she has demonstrated.

It’s not clear to me if this act effectively opens the way for Gentiles to come to Jesus or whether the ultimate rejection of Him by the Jews provided the real key. What is real, very real, is that the way is open. The way is open to Jew and Gentile.

Irrespective of race or creed, all can come to Christ. There are many in the world today who follow false religions. Many follow the way of no apparent religion at all. My prayer is for every one of them.
God help them!

Lord God,

I thank You for this Gentile woman who sought out Jesus. Whether she opened the way for the rest of us is irrelevant. She is a wonderful example.

I pray earnestly for those who don’t know You. I remember the words of Jesus that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”I see the Holy Spirit involved in this work with the Father and the Son, drawing people into divine relationship.

I ask You, Triune God, to reach out to the lost and bring them to that place of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and of joining the Kingdom of heaven. I pray especially for family members, for friends and for neighbours. Hear my cries, Lord. May my prayer come to You, and may it be answered in glorious affirmation.

May Your Holy Spirit be active all over this world seeking out the lost and bringing them into the fold.

I bring this prayer to You, in faith, in the name of Jesus.                                                    Amen.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


“Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?”                                    Mark 2.9

I note the order of Jesus’ words here where forgiveness of sins precedes healing. Of course, forgiveness of sins cannot be taken as an assurance of healing but, surely, I can only help myself when I take steps to remove anything that I might perceive as an obstacle or obstruction to healing, deliverance, release or empowerment.

Healing comes in the name of Jesus. Jesus was sinless therefore He had no reason to seek forgiveness of others. Yet He was affected, grossly and mortally, by the sins of others. His response was one of forgiveness on their behalf:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”   (Luke 23.34)

Jesus also said, “Follow me.” (Mark 2.14). I have received Jesus and taken His name into my being. I am a Christian. I want to follow Him. Yet, He is sinless and I am sinful. Thus it is necessary for me to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Heb. 12.1). When I sin, I need to confess, repent and seek forgiveness. This act might be required of me towards God, or towards other human beings. Whatever is required, I need to act and not delay. Similarly when others hurt or wrong me, I must respond in forgiveness. Holding on to hurt or the wrongs of others will only hinder my own walk with God, will retard me in following Jesus, and is likely to rob me of the peace and joy that is a hallmark of His presence, love and power with me and in me.

When I struggle with issues, even finding it nigh impossible to forgive in some instances, He will help me – to the extent that I am willing. And if I am ‘paralysed’ in any way, He may bless me with healing. Yet, notwithstanding, perhaps the greatest healing comes with my release from sin and un-forgiveness.

Dear God,

I lay before You my sinful self. I confess my sins. I repent and say, in utmost earnestness that I want to go Your way. Forgive me all of my sins. Show me any unconfessed sin that might lurk in my inner being. Empower me by Your Holy Spirit to bring all into the light in confession and repentance. Set me free, Lord. I realise this is a continuing activity for I will surely sin again. Let me not be deterred by this, nor accept it with over-familiarity. But allow me to press in to You. Draw me closer. Shape me, more and more, in the image of Jesus the Christ, very God in human form.

I’m Yours in complete surrender. Receive my prayer, in Jesus’ Name.                              Amen.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Our trust, our hope

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save...

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.
      Psalm 146.3,5

God’s Word reveals truth and the reality of His amazing presence and working in our lives. It is often difficult to resist or ignore the ways of humanity. How easy it is, and how many times it seems necessary, to look to fellow humans for affirmation, indeed to place trust and hope in them.

This is not the way. The only way is with God. I may feel at times that God has all but deserted me. Yet this is false, it generates from my weak emotions rather than from a strong faith. In such moments, I need to remind myself that God is for me (Rom. 8.31). He will strengthen me as I need it. He will direct and guide me as I allow Him – even through the most ungodly-seeming circumstances.

I note a verse from the psalm that follows this present one:

            The LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.       (Psalm 147.11)

Whatever circumstances may surround me, may I ever put my hope in the unfailing love of my loving God and Father. May I continue to grow daily in holy fear of Him. Hallelujah!

Lord God, Holy Father,

I thank You for Your constancy. I love and adore You. I commit to the fullness of Your ways for me – whatever they may be and wherever they might lead.

I place my full hope in You. You are my strength and my shield. You are my life and my destiny. Have Your way in me and with me. Lead me, I pray, into a holy fear of You that grows greater with every passing day. Receive my prayer, in Jesus’ Name I ask.      Amen.