Jesus came home to Capernaum, and people gathered in such large numbers that no room was left in the place where He preached. Four men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus, but they could not get through the crowd to enter the house by the door. They ...

 

Faithful People Share Their Faith (Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:2) and more...



Faithful People Share Their Faith (Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:2)

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Jesus came home to Capernaum, and people gathered in such large numbers that no room was left in the place where He preached. Four men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus, but they could not get through the crowd to enter the house by the door. They carried him up to the roof and dug an opening above Jesus.  Then they lowered the mat their friend lay on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, "Your sins are forgiven."

Teachers of the law sitting there, thought Jesus blasphemed God. They asked each other, "Who can forgive sins but God?"

Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them, "Which is easier to say to this man, 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Get up, take up your mat and walk'? I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So Jesus looked at the paralyzed man and said, "I tell you, get up, take up your mat and go home."

The man got up and walked. Everyone saw him and was amazed and praised God.

Think About It
The paralytic was a lucky man. He had friends who wanted him to walk so much that they  took him to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He knew they expected Him to heal their friend and He did. We all have friends who are spiritually paralyzed by fear, guilt, doubt, pain or maybe even hurt by something that happened at a church in their past. They feel trapped and cannot get to Jesus on their own. Are you faithful enough to share your faith and bring your friends to Jesus? They will benefit from your love and the love of God. The more you are faithful, the greater God rewards you with more faith.

Pray About It
Father God, it is not easy watching our friends suffer. Help us to be faithful to share your love and what you have done in our lives. Empower us as we step out to be faithful. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    
 

The Brothers' Request (Mark 10:32-45)

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Jesus and the disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus took the Twelve aside to tell them what would happen to Him. "We are going up to Jerusalem, and I will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn me to death and will give me to the Gentiles, who will mock me and spit on me, flog me and kill me. Three days later I will rise."

Then (This 'then' is an important word.), James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him and requested Jesus to do whatever they asked. "What do you want?" Jesus said. 

They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."

"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"

The brothers said they could, and Jesus said they would, but the seats they requested were not His to grant. They belonged to those for whom they' had been prepared. Jesus knew the brothers wanted positions of authority in His Kingdom. He said to them, "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all, for even I did not come to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many."

Think About It
Broken hearted, Jesus told His friends how He would suffer and die. On the heels of this announcement, James and John step forward to ask Jesus for important positions in His Kingdom. Jesus had rightly named these strong-willed men "Sons of Thunder." I would like to think the two discussions in this passage are not connected, but the brothers' request begins with the word "then." This one word brings the two subject matters together in a single event. I'm amazed.

Pray About It
Our Lord and Father, teach us to be humble, to realize that all glory and honor go to you and not us. Help us to serve You in selfless ways to bring you glory and to seek no recognition for ourselves. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    
 

Is Anything Good in Hell? (Luke 16:19-31)

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Jesus warned about the reality of Hell three times more than He witnessed of the glories of Heaven. One time He told this story: A rich man dressed in purple and linen lived in luxury. At his gate sat a beggar named Lazarus who longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man's table. The dogs licked Lazarus' painful sores.

Lazarus died one day and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. Later the rich man died and was buried. From Hell where he suffered great torment, he saw Abraham with Lazarus by his side, and cried out to him. "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip his fingers in water to cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

Abraham answered him, "Remember that in your lifetime you received good things while Lazarus received bad things. Today he is comforted and you are suffering. In addition, there is a chasm between you and us. No one passes from here to there or from there to here.

Then the rich man begged the Father to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them about this terrible place of torment.

Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets. Let your brothers listen to them."

The rich man said, "But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."

Abraham said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, even if someone raised from death will not be able to convince them.


Think About It
Do you think God sends good people to Hell? The answer is He does not. People who choose to live by their standards instead of God's ways, consequently choose to go to Hell. Then if good people go to Hell, is there good in Hell? Consider the examples in this story:
  • The rich man was good and merciful. He allowed Lazarus with his pitiful sores to beg at his gate. What if a beggar showed up at your mailbox. What would you do?
  • The rich man had vision. He saw Lazarus and Abraham. Isn't being able to see a good thing?
  • The rich man prayed for mercy. Prayer is good, right?
  • The rich man had memories and intellect. He remembered the good times, and when he experienced the reality of Hell for his choices, he wanted to warn his brothers. His intentions were good, weren't they? 
The truth is, the road to Hell is paved with good people and good intentions, but Hell is real and filled with unquenchable and eternal torment. Understand this--there are no atheists in Hell. A day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We have a choice to accept God's amazing love or live without it. We can choose anxiety and fear or peace and hope. The rewards of God's love are far greater than anything this world has to offer. Choose today to follow God by:
  1. Admitting you need a Savior to forgive you of the way you have lived.
  2. Believing that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).
  3. Confessing to others what God has done in your life and be baptized.

Pray About It
Father God, I pray that people reading this story from your word will want to accept your love and benefit from the abundant life you promise today and forever. In Jesus' name, Amen.


    
 

What is Your Gethsemane? (Matthew 26:39)

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Jesus spent quality time with His closest friends at the Last Supper. After dinner he washed their feet and then led them to the garden of Gethsemane where He prayed three times. He prayed in anguish that the Father would take away His cup of suffering, but added, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus knew what was coming.  We might think because He was God He would be exempt from the pain of ridicule, rejection and crucifixion. Yet, He was also true man. Jesus knew He would feel the mockery deep in His heart. He knew He would feel the pain of the nails piercing His hands and feet. He endured the cross because He loved us so much He didn't want any of us to perish in our sin, but to live with Him forever in a place He is preparing for us. Through His sacrifice we have forgiveness and are made right with God the Father. What joy there will be in Heaven when we all get together! Meantime, we have a few things to do. 

Jesus endured the cross because He could see what was on the other side of His suffering--sitting at the right hand of the Father. He was buried and rose from His grave. After His resurrection, He gave His  His last will and testament to His followers: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). This is known as the Great Commission. I am a home-body and love my comfort zone so I resist getting out of it. However, God has called me to task, and that is going out and sharing the love of Jesus. When I volunteer at the hospital or lead Bible studies for women, God blesses me far beyond my imagination. I didn't know about the blessings before I followed Jesus' command to "go."

Think About It
What about you? Do you have a ministry? Do you hesitate to go out because others might ignore you, reject you or oppose you? It's a sacrifice, but so far, no one has spit on me or hurt me physically. I rely on the promise at the end of Jesus' Great Commission: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus suffered alone, but we don't have to. He is always with us. He will never ask anything of us that He doesn't equip us and empower us to do.

Pray About It
Thank you Lord Jesus, for your faithfulness. Thank you for the confidence we have when we go out to reach the lost, knowing you are with us. Thank you for the blessings that come every time we step out of our comfort zones to serve You. In your powerful name, Amen.

    
 
   
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