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Anointed

“Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Though one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray him objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? The perfume was worth a years income. Judas did not care for the poor but he was concerned because he was the keeper of the money that was collected. He would often take some for himself.

Jesus responds, “Leave her alone. It was intended that she would save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:1-8)

This is a very touching and inspiring passage. To give what was probably the most expensive thing Mary owned and pour it out on Jesus’ feet is so beautiful! She poured out 12 ounces of very costly perfume upon the one she loved and cherished. It was an act of sacrificial adoration. It was also a humble act. She wiped his feet with her hair.

It is interesting to note that this isn’t the first time we see Mary at Jesus’ feet. Mary falls at Jesus’ feet when she was grieving over her brother’s death. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32) Then the next time we see Mary is in her home sitting at Jesus’ feet. “Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat the the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (Luke 10:38)

The fragrance fills the house. Everyone is touched by what Mary did from the least to the greatest. Though not everyone is happy with her choice to pour our such an expensive perfume. Jesus stands by her side and says that this act was done for my burial. He also reminds them that he will not always be with them. When had they heard him say this? In John 7:33, Jesus says, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I will go to the one who sent me.” So they knew the time would be coming that Jesus would need to leave them.

I love how Mary came to Jesus in humble positions. She postured herself at his feet. How do you come before your Savior and King? Is it standing, sitting, kneeling, or hands held high. I think it’s good to think of how we enter His presence. How do we lift him up even in how we present ourselves to Him. Just something to think and dwell upon today as you meditate on His precious word.

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I Believe

This is the second installment about the man born blind from birth. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, “I Can See”, I would highly encourage you to read it. Today we will look at the passages in John 9:12-38.

We ended yesterday’s blog with the man retelling the story of his healing to his neighbors and acquaintances. They wanted to know where the man was that healed him. The man did not know.

So the neighbors and others brought the man to the Pharisees to investigate his healing. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath which was a big no no to the Pharisees. Some said the man (Jesus) was not from God because he did not keep the Sabbath. “But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.” Then they decided to ask the man who was healed who he thought this man (Jesus) was. He replied, “He is a prophet.”

The Pharisees did not believe the man. So they asked his parents about his healing. They were afraid of the Jewish leaders and did not say very much because they feared being thrown out of the synagogue. Now they decide to ask the healed man to come back and answer more questions. “Give glory to God by tell the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” They then proceeded with more questions and the healed man said, “Do you want to become his disciples too?” This infuriated them and they threw him out of the synagogue.

Jesus heard that he had been thrown out. He finds him and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man? He has no idea. He says, “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” “Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.”

Not only was this man cured of his physical blindness but he was healed of his spiritual blindness also. He was doubly healed. Jesus revealed himself to the man and he believed. As soon as he believed, it says that he worshipped him! Knowing Jesus caused him to literally fall at his feet and worship him.

What does knowing Jesus do in our own hearts and lives? I would encourage you to think deeply about this question and journal some thoughts. Then go ahead and put those thoughts into action. He is worthy of our praise and adoration!

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No Longer Condemned

Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. There were people gathered around him as he sat down to teach. In the middle of his teaching, the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. “They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.” I can imagine them pointing their fingers at this woman as if to shame her. They were taught in the law of Moses to stone a woman found doing such a thing. They came to Jesus and asked him what they should do. Their whole goal in this was to trap Jesus and have a reason to accuse him.

Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. They continued to question him, then he straightened up and had something to say. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dirt.

Without sin! Who of us is without sin? No one is! One way to describe sin is from archery. It means missing the mark. Another way to define it is it’s going against the law of God or rebellion against God. Our sin separates us from God and can also separate us from others.

Getting back to the story, the Pharisees began to go away one at a time, the older and then the younger. Now the only people there left were Jesus and the woman. “Jesus straightened back up and asked her,”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Condemn in the dictionary means to “express an unfavorable or adverse judgement or indicate strong disapproval of.” There are other verses about condemnation in the Bible. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1) “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17) “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) If we belong to Jesus we are no longer condemned. Isn’t that wonderful to mediate on.

Jesus commanded the woman to, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus tells us the same thing. We are to leave our life of sin and follow after Him. Is there any sin in your life today that you have been hiding from God or others? I would encourage you to confess it and turn away from it so you can be free. Jesus desires for us to be free from the bondage of sin. Come to Him today and let Him usher you into greater freedom and joy!

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Don’t Be Afraid

This section of scripture takes place after the feeding of the 5,000. Once evening came, the disciples went down to the lake. They got into a boat and sailed across the lake to Capernaum. (John 6:16-17) Jesus had not yet joined them as he was by himself on the mountainside. (vs. 15). A place like this is where He would often go and spend time with His Father in prayer.

As they rowed, a strong wind came up and the waters grew difficult to navigate. Then Jesus approaches the boat, walking on water, around the 4th watch of the night. The 4th watch was around 3 to 6:00A.M. This meant that the disciples had been rowing for about nine hours though they had only gone three to four miles. They must have been exhausted and discouraged from their constant rowing. Their response to Jesus though was fear and trepidation. Jesus then calms them and says, “It is I; do not be afraid.”(vs. 20) Once they hear His voice, they let him into the boat. Next an amazing thing happens, they arrive immediately to shore.

When was the last time you heard Jesus say to you, “It is I, do not be afraid.” Maybe not audibly but in your heart. Maybe you are much like the disciples that are discouraged and exhausted from the storms of life. You need your Savior you to bring you safely to the shore. You’ve had it with the wind and waves and now you are ready for something more stable and sure.

For me personally, the last time I sensed Jesus tell me not to be afraid has been with my counseling. I’ve needed to go to hard and unseen places of the heart that can be painful and scary. Working though rejection from people I loved has been a big one for me lately. Past pain and hurts can make it difficult to really look long and hard at the true source of where it all started. With Jesus, I was able me to go to those painful places and receive acceptance from the Father.

Where do you need to hear from Jesus, “It is I, do not be afraid.” Let him meet you like he did the disciples. Let Him step into your boat and take you to shore. He is more than willing and able.

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Mountainside Miracle

Jesus is going from place to place doing miraculous signs. He crosses the Sea of Galilee and has a large crowd following him. They were drawn to Him because they saw Jesus heal the sick. As He walks, He sees a mountainside and sits down with His disciples. Next Jesus looks up and sees that throng of people coming toward him. “He communicates to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5) Though Jesus does this as a test. He had a plan of what he could do to satisfy these hungry people. Philip responds, “It would take more than a half year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (vs.7) Philip saw the impossibility of feeding such a vast amount of people.

Now Andrew spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how will they go among so many?” (vs.9) Andrew looks at the situation they are in a little differently than Philip. He looked at what they had and yet still questioned how it could happen.

Jesus had a plan. He told the disciples to have the people sit down. “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (vs. 11) I love that Jesus doesn’t sit them down with a “box meal” and say okay this all you get but enjoy. Not at all, He lets them have as much as they desire. Doesn’t that make the miracle of the feeding that much more?!

When they had enough to eat, he had his disciples go and gather everything that was left over. Jesus didn’t want to waste a thing. The disciples went among the crowd and retrieved twelve full basket loaves of food. Take notice that there was one basket for each of the twelve. Was Jesus trying to make a statement to the disciples? I think the left over baskets said to them that Jesus provides abundantly above and beyond what we can think or imagine.

Jesus is still in the business of providing for his children. Think over your life, in what ways has He abundantly provided for you. Take time to thank Him and believe Him for even greater provision in the future.

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Words of Life

Jesus is teaching about who He is in the synagogue. He makes the statement that “He is the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (vs. 35) He later says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day.” (vs.43) Then Jesus says, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (vs.51) Then he challenges them with this truth, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (vs.53)

This was hard for many of his disciples to understand. I think they were thinking of eating his flesh and drinking his blood in the literal sense instead of the spiritual. Then Jesus went on to say, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you– they are full of the Spirit and life.” (vs.63) After this it tells us that many of his disciples didn’t follow him any longer. This was too radical for them. Jesus turns to his twelve disciples and asks if they want to leave also. We then get to our verse, “Simon Peter answered Him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (vs.68)

There were many people who followed Jesus besides the core twelve. Can you imagine what is was like for Jesus to see so many of his disciples turn away from him? They had seen him perform miracles, heard his teachings in the synagogue, walked and talked with him. Yet they turned from him.

I love Peter’s response, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter got it. These men who had given up everything to follow Jesus, knew there was no other place to go to find eternal life!

The words eternal life are found 42 times in the New Testament. One of the most familiar verses in the Bible talks about eternal life and is found in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE.” Over and over, scripture portrays Jesus as the source of eternal life and that eternal life is a gift freely given to those who desire it.

Have you come to Jesus, the giver of eternal life? Have you received the free gift he offers you and I? Have you heard him calling you to come to him? I pray today you would make the decision to follow him for the rest of your life and the life to come. He worthy of our trust, our time, and our full dedication.

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Say The Word

This passage come from a wonderful section of scripture that talks about the amazing faith of a man in leadership. This man was a centurion. He was a soldier in the Roman army and had 100 men under him that he instructed and lead. Can you imagine being in charge of such a large number of people and having them under your authority?

Let me give you a brief look at this story of the centurion and Jesus. The centurion comes to Jesus with with a plea for help. His servant is sick, paralyzed, and is suffering. Jesus responds to his need for help by saying, “Shall I come and heal him?” Then the centurion responds, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed.” He says to Jesus that he is a man under authority. “I tell this one, ‘Go’, and he goes and that one, ‘Come’, and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this’, and he does it.” Jesus responds in amazement. “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such faith.” “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.” (Matt. 8:8-10,13)

I along with Jesus was amazed by the centurion’s faith. He put his trust in the authority and power of Jesus. He knew from his own experience of telling others what to do that Jesus could do the very same thing with his servant’s sickness. The centurion was also a humble man. He said I don’t deserve for you to come into my home. I see him here elevating Jesus and placing himself in a more submissive role.

There is a lot we can learn from this Roman official. How can we have similar faith that he exhibited with Jesus? Think on the things you pray for and take to God on a daily basis. Do you believe that Jesus can move, work, and heal in your situation?

How can we have the same submissive posture that the centurion showed? Reflect now on your own posture with Jesus. Do you elevate Jesus in the way you respond to Him or how you speak to others about Him. Is he in is rightful place, enthroned on high, the name above every name?

Let’s be men and women of true faith and humility. Let us come to Jesus believing that He can do anything we ask according to His perfect will. What a wonderful Savior and King we can come to who modeled perfect humility to us. (Phil. 2:5-8). Let’s learn more about His submission to the Father so we can become like Him in every way.

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Jesus Calls Us

Let me start off by giving you some context to this passage. Mark 2:13-17 is the story of how Jesus calls Levi to become one of his beloved disciples. Levi was a dreaded tax collector. They were a hated people in Jesus’s day. Tax collectors were known for collecting more money than necessary from the people and pocketing it. You can read more about this in Luke 19:1-10, which is when Jesus meets another tax collector named Zacchaeus. The people at that time had a negative picture of the Roman government. This also contributed to much public displeasure. Something you may not know is that tax collectors were Jewish. They were seen as betraying their own people to side with the Roman government.

After Jesus calls Levi, he then spends time eating and interacting with the tax collectors and those from sinful lifestyles who were following him. The scribes of the Pharisees see this and are confused. I wonder if they were thinking “why doesn’t Jesus invite us to recline with him too?” They ask, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus responds in Mark 2:17, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but only those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners”. Luke 5:32 is the same account and says, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus poignantly points out that the scribes, who thought they were “righteous” and therefore did not see their need, were not the ones he came for. It’s those who admit that they are spiritually sick that need a doctor.

Jesus calls us as sinners to come and follow Him. He doesn’t call perfect people who think they have it all together. When Jesus called me, my life was a mess. I had almost lost my license because of speeding, I was fired from my job, and the boy I thought was “the one” broke up with me. If you are a follower of Jesus, I encourage you to take some time to think about and journal what your life looked like before you said yes to Jesus. Think about the things that were going on in your life that lead you to Christ and pause to say thank you to the Great Physician that came to heal sinners.

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Eternal Water

John 4:14 is in a beautifully set picture frame of a fountain in a secret garden that is on the wall of our home in our family room. Years ago I bought the frame because I loved the calming and inviting photo. Now I love it because of the scripture that it possesses.

This passage comes from one of my favorite interactions that Jesus had with a woman. I would like to share with you some of this amazing interaction that Jesus and the woman at the well had with one another.

The story starts at noon day. Jesus had stopped off at a well to rest from his journey. A Samaritan woman comes by to draw water from the well and Jesus asks her for a drink. The woman is surprised that he, a Jew is asking she, a Samaritan for some water. You see Jews and Samaritans didn’t talk to one another. “Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) The woman is intrigued by what Jesus says about this living water. In her thinking he has nothing to draw water from the deep well. “Then Jesus answered, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13&14)

Now the woman desires this living water. She wants it so she won’t become physically thirsty again. Skipping down a few verses the woman says, “I know that the Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, He will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you– I am He.”(John 4:25,26) Jesus reveals that He is the Christ! The one she has been waiting to hear from. This entire passage is powerful and I would encourage you to read it in it’s entirety. (John 4:1-42)

If we belong to Christ, we have this living water in us too springing up to eternal life! The message wasn’t just for the Samaritan woman but it’s for all who believe. It says in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of His heart will flow rivers of living water!” The rivers of living water is the Holy Sprit that is alive and active in the life of a believer. (John 7:39)

If you aren’t aware of the Holy Spirit and who he is I’d love for you to do a word study on Him. For those of you who are aware of who the Holy Spirit is, I’d encourage you to thank Him for His presence and activity in your life. What an awesome God we praise, wonderful Savior we serve and beautiful Holy Spirit we are growing to know. May you press into knowing the three in one, the Holy Trinity, in a deeper way today!

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Take Courage

I came to the realization yesterday that the character quality I most admire in another individual is courage. Courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear: bravery.”

I would encourage you to read Matthew 14:22-31 as it gives you the context to this particular verse. I will attempt to condense it down into a short paragraph. The disciples were sent out on a boat by Jesus who stayed behind and found a quiet place to pray. When Jesus finished praying, he sees the boat is a far distance away. Sometime between 3 and 6AM, Jesus walks out on the water to the boat. The disciples see him and are afraid. That is when Jesus says, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Then Peter boldly says, Jesus if it’s you tell me to come out on the water. Jesus calls for Peter to come to Him. Peter begins walking, looks around at the waves, becomes afraid, and begins to sink. Jesus reaches out his hand to catch him. Then Jesus remarks to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This segment of scripture is jam packed with a lot I could write about today but I will choose to focus on how Jesus encouraged his disciples to have courage and how Peter walked on the water courageously. I absolutely love that Jesus said to his disciples to “take courage.” How many times in your life have you been encouraged to “take courage”? For me it is when we moved our young family over to the Philippines in 2007. We had never lived overseas or lived in a mega city. A couple that were instrumental in us moving there encouraged and challenged our faith and believed in us. It was as if they were saying to us Take courage Wade. Take courage Christine. You’ve got this.

So Peter steps out of the boat and crazily walks on water to Jesus!! Can you imagine what that must have felt like? He was stepping out in faith to Jesus. How is Jesus compelling you today to climb out of the boat and walk on the water? For me, it actually is in my writing the blog daily. Some days I am filled with self doubt and think, I can’t get out the boat today. I don’t think I have anything to offer others. This can paralyze me at times. What challenges keep you from stepping out in faith? I would encourage you to write out todays scripture and put it somewhere where you will see it daily. Let Jesus’s words help you to get out of the boat and take courage. I know you can do it. Write to me today and let me know how Jesus is calling you to TAKE COURAGE.