Abide In Me

This is the second in a series on abiding in me as Jesus said. The Apostle Paul uses the term in Christ 53 times throughout Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. He discloses the benefits, blessings, new character, and empowerment that accompany being in Christ. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Faith

Paul tells believers that by faith in Christ, they are justified and become sons of God. Plus, their faith working through love brings them in to a special relationship with the Father, . . . so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14b NASB).

The author of Hebrews gives us a deeper understanding of faith:

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.  By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:1-3 Amplified).

Strength

Paul hears reports of believers’ good discipline and the stability of their faith (Colossians 2:5). He rejoices at their new character and growth as they mature in Christ. The apostle affirms believers even when he cannot be with them to teach and encourage them himself.

Mystery

Paul tells believers there is something special and powerful with their position in Christ. It’s a mystery hidden for generations—Christ lives in you! This gives you assurance of sharing his glory (Colossians 1:26,27b). What a glorious promise. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your plan that Christ could live in us. I praise you for providing this glorious way to be in relationship with you.

Freedom in Christ

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 New Living Translation).

Galatians 1-3 New Living Translation
Galatians 1-3 The Voice
Galatians 1-3 The Message
Galatians 1-3 In your Bible

The epistle is bold. Paul reproaches Galatian teachers for adding circumcision to the believers faith walk. That’s not what Paul taught. He reminds them, the Spirit, not the flesh, should guide believers. One commentator describes Galatians as the Christian Declaration of Independence* – Freedom in Christ.

Paul’s Testimony

Paul asserts his apostleship. His dramatic meeting with Lord on the road to Damascus, three years in the desert, and twice meeting with the other apostles in Jerusalem. Thirteen years later, Peter gave Paul the right hand of fellowship to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.

. . . God—who set me apart even before birth and called me by His grace—chose, to His great delight, to reveal His Son in me so I could tell His story among the outsider nations . . . (Galatians 1:15,16a The Voice).

Promise and Faith

Now, Paul addresses the false teachers have asserted believers must combine Judaic law with their Christian faith.

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. For if the inheritance could be keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise (Galatians 3:16-18 NLT).

Paul gives understanding of pure Christianity. But now you [believers] have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise (Galatians 3:25-27 The Message).

Prayer: Father, thank you for fulfilling the Law in Christ Jesus. He is my life.

Questions: Describe Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus. Key verses in Galatians 2:11-24 and Acts 9:3-6, reveal that much more happened to Saul/Paul after he was knocked off his donkey. What ideas and facts here help your understanding of Paul?

*What the Bible is all About, Henrietta Mears, Regal Books, a Division of G/L Publications, Glendale, CA, 1974, p.480.

Faith and Results

…… “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:27).

THE MESSAGE: Matthew 9:27-30
In Your Bible: Matthew 9:27-30

Why should we be surprised? Jesus often didn’t say many words when he met peoples needs, healing, deliverance and more. He used phrases like, “be opened,” “come out” (for demons), or in Matthew 9, “Become what you believe.” Simple, powerful words from the Master, bring results including healing.

God in Action

We may call them stories, but they are indeed accounts of miraculous intervention – God/Jesus at work. Faith is a theme found throughout the Bible – with many wonderful and yes, amazing results. A few highlights found In the Old Testament:

  • Noah built an ark with God’s directions – to save people and animals
  • Moses parting the Red sea with his staff
  • Abram and Sara believing God for their own child
  • Joshua and God won the battle at Jericho
  • Daniel in the lion’s den
  • Elijah the prophet saving the widow’s son

The Gospels are loaded with wonders/miracles and many examples of Jesus’ healing touch. The point made is faith in God is intimately attached to results – including healing. Here are three in Matthew Chapter 9:18-29!

  • Ruler’s daughter healed
  • A woman with bleeding for 12 years
  • Two blind men on the road ask for sight from Jesus

Jesus Simple Healing Words

Let’s look at these two blind men (Matthew 9), who followed Jesus, on the road. This is one account of many who encountered Jesus, probably daily. So, why are they mentioned in Scripture? I believe it’s to emphasize the faith of the believer is a hidden key to action with God.

These two men cried out to, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us” (Eyewitness Matthew 9:27). Then they went into the house where Jesus was. Jesus asked a direct question, “Do you really believe I can do this?” Their answer in unison was Why yes, Master” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:28). Jesus reached out and touched each man’s eyes, “Become what you believe. It happened. They saw” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:28-30).

Bible scholars comment, * these two blind men were deprived of their sight but had eyes of understanding and discernment of the great things of God they requested – they believed Jesus could heal them. Jesus credited them with that discernment.

As Jesus demanded the recipients not tell anyone, they were healed! However, they did tell everyone they saw throughout the area! Wouldn’t you? Jesus saw and knew the faith of the believer enabled healing by just few words by him, The Master.

Application: Jesus pointed out that believers have the faith needed, the challenge is the strength of our belief. He says even faith as small as a mustard seed – will grow. Believers need to exercise faith, be confident in what Jesus can do, and not doubt (another subject altogether).

Prayer: Father, help me exercise the gift of faith you’ve given me. You bless me so much….thank you. I want to grow in faith.

Question: Why do believers struggle with faith? How much is enough faith? Do these examples of exercising faith, help you grow?

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary In One Volume, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, p. 1248.

(We’ve been out of town from April 18 through May 2, so I’ll post two intended/scheduled but not sent for April 25th and May 3rd from England. Sorry.)

Jesus Did Another Odd Thing

He looked upon them, fully aware of their condition. “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Eyewitness Luke 17:14).

Eyewitness: p. 175
In Your Bible: Leviticus 13:2; Luke 17:11-19

We pray asking God for help. We may not see immediate results, but we know he will answer in the best way. Knowing this we might thank him as we ask. It’s in his timing to show results. It’s in our timing to show thanksgiving and praise.

This account of the ten leprous men, is found only in Luke. Ten leprous men received mercy/healing. But what else did Jesus want?

A Request of Jesus

Jesus traveled between Samaria and Galilee on his way back from Jerusalem. As he came to a town, ten leprous men came to him. They weren’t allowed to come too close to people and according to Jewish Law they must warn everyone by shouting “Unclean. Unclean.” The men cried out to Jesus for what they wanted. “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon us” (Eyewitness Luke 17:13). This sincere plea came from the heart of each man. Jesus, fully aware of their condition, had compassion for them. Oddly, what Jesus did was to show his mercy and remind them what the Law required.

Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Eyewitness Luke 17:14). As they went away, the lepers received their healing.

However, only one came back to Jesus. He saw he had been healed and said with a loud voice, “Praise God! He fell at Jesus feet and thanked him” (Eyewitness Luke 17:16).

God’s Mercy Is Healing

“Didn’t I heal ten men?” Jesus asked. “Where are the other nine? Except for this foreigner, no one has returned to give glory to God. Stand up now and go. Your faith has made you well” (Eyewitness Luke 17:17-19).

Naturally, Jesus wanted to see all of these who were healed. He wanted them to know the they were clean because they had faith in him. Jesus’ desire is for mankind to know God is merciful, loving, and caring. Oddly, the only one who returned was a Samaritan!

Application: Simple words from Jesus are not merely simple words. He knew the key required for this healing was their faith in him. The leprous men received all they asked of Jesus. Yet only one returned and praised the source. Believers must remember to thank Jesus.

Prayer: Father, help me realize all that you do for me. I thank you for eyes and ears to see and hear you. You bless me in so many ways. I don’t ever want to forget to be thankful.

Question: Why do you think the nine lepers did not return to give thanks? Why do we miss what God is doing? Is our focus too much on ourselves?

A Glimpse of God’s Compassion

…….”Today, God has visited us” (Eyewitness Luke 7:16)

Eyewitness: pp. 75,76
In Your Bible: Luke 7:11-23

The disciples and increasing crowds followed Jesus to Nain. They eagerly listened to every word he spoke and expectantly watched everything he did. At the town gate, they met a large funeral procession. The sorrowful scene centered on a widow, who lost her only son, funeral musicians, and many wailing townspeople.

FUNERAL PROCESSION MEETS JESUS

Luke emphasizes Jesus’ overwhelming compassion, as he came upon this mourning widow. Many Bible commentators say this may be the most touching story in the Gospels.

When Jesus saw the widow, he was filled with compassion and said to her, “Do not cry” (Eyewitness Luke 7:13). Then he walked over to the bier, a flat stretcher bearing the corpse, and touched it. Immediately, the men carrying the bier stopped walking. Then Jesus commanded the corpse to get up.

IMG_0192Amazingly, the widow’s dead son came alive again. He sat up and began to speak. Jesus presented him with new life, back to his mother. Jesus showed his deep compassion for the widow and the power of God to raise her son to life.

Now, the very large crowd stood in awe of what Jesus had done. They knew what they witnessed – God in their midst. They praised God saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “Today, God has visited us” (Eyewitness Luke 7:17).

JOHN WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT JESUS

Word of Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee and Judea. John the Baptist heard of it from his disciples while in prison at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. And he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the One to come.

“Go tell John what you have seen and heard,” Jesus replied. “The blind see, the lame walk, and lepers are cleansed. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised, and the needy receive words of hope. Tell him a man is blessed when he puts his faith in me” (Eyewitness Luke 7:22,23).

John the Baptist received verification of who Jesus was. Great testimony of what Jesus did – people knew it must have been God!

Application: Jesus’ compassion continues today. He is aware, he cares, and he wants God’s best for you.

Prayer: Father, thank you. Your compassion overcomes our sorrow and grief. Yes, your lovingkindness is everlasting and your faithfulness touches us deeply in times of need.

Photo of young boy healed by Jesus from: Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1979, The Genesis Project.

Jesus’ First Miracle

Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (Eyewitness John 2:5).

Eyewitness: pp. 38, 179, 261
In Your Bible: John 2:1-12

Jesus was baptized by John, led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, then victoriously resisted Satan who tried to tempt him. Three days later, he attended a wedding feast in a village near Cana, in Galilee. Mary, his mother and some disciples were also present. Jesus’ first miracle took place during this well known event.

A CRISIS AT THE FEAST

At the wedding feast, Mary noticed the wine for the guests was nearly gone. She approached Jesus and said, “They have no more wine.” “Mother,” Jesus said, “you must not tell me what to do. My time has not yet come” (Eyewitness John 2:3,4).

His reply seems abrupt or maybe even rude. But according to some Bible scholars, the tone Jesus used was gentle. The term he used in reference to his mother, has no English rendering. It is better translated as Lady, which gives it respect and gentleness.**

Some Bible translations use the term “woman” or “dear woman” to soften his reply. But we know, Jesus always honored his parents – this is a command from God (Eyewitness Deuteronomy 5:16).

Undaunted by Jesus’ reply, Mary directed the servants, “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you to do” (Eyewitness John 2:5). Inferring Jesus would solve the embarrassing shortage of wine, so as not to dampen the week-long wedding festival.

Servant Filling Large JarsJesus told the servants to fill six jars, normally used for ritual washings, completely full with water. Then take a sample to the host to get his approval for use. (These jars were huge, each could hold 20-30 gallons. This would be up to 180 gallons of water – a lot of water for wine indeed.)

The host not only approved this new wine he sampled, but made glowing comments on how much better it was than the first wine served. Only a few knew the source of the wine – Jesus, the servants who poured the water into the jars, probably Mary, and the disciples present.

JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY ON EARTH

At a wedding festival Jesus first showed his glory, Mary displayed absolute confidence in her son, and the disciples first saw him humbly meet simple needs in a manner no one else could.

The miracle at Cana in Galilee was the first sign of Jesus’ majesty, and his disciples believed in him (Eyewitness John 2:11). This initiated the disciples’ belief. Their faith in Jesus would grow throughout their time with him and blossom as Jesus sent them out, under his direction and authority, to do Kingdom work and show Kingdom life.

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miracles that have not been recorded, but these are written so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. By believing, you will have life through his name (Eyewitness John 21:25). Believe it.

Application: Jesus listened for what his Father would have him do. Our faith grows as we believe and trust in Jesus, read the Word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit guide us.

Prayer: Father, I believe you can help me as much as you helped these we read about in Scripture – even in times of crisis. Thank you.

**From: Wm Barclay, The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of John, Volume 1 The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1953,1956, pp.80-90.

Photo courtesy of nuchylee /freedigitalphotos.net