Archive for March, 2012

“Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

– Mark 5:34b NIV

The world’s standard of success equates to wealth, fame, celebrity, acclaim, popularity and status. There may be others, but that’s what comes to mind. From the perspective of heaven, what does success look like? Moses led the Israelites from captivity to the doorstep of prosperity, but was not allowed to go in. Was he successful in life? Samson was predestined from birth to be a judge and ‘savior’ of his people from the hand of the Philistines who were enemies of Israel. According to scripture, Samson killed more Philistines in what some have suggested was an untimely death than when he lived. Did Samson experience success?

From a worldly perspective, Tiger Woods, Whitney Houston, Mel Gibson and countless other entertainers, athletes and prominent people in society, whose names we often hear associated with success, have achieved much. What they all have in common with us, is the unescapable reality that there are some things in life fame, fortune and status will not be able to afford us.

Mark’s account of the sick woman tells us she had some level of financial prosperity that she invested in finding a cure for her ailment, but she did not succeed with her wealth to acquire what God provides. Her status in life allowed her access to doctors, but her status did not afford her the cure for her illness she sought for from doctors. Deep within her soul, the sick woman felt a prompting, even after 12 years of suffering, depletion of resources and disappointment to use her remaining resources of hope and faith and invest them in Christ. Her hope and faith became the means by which she would experience the success God promises to those who seek after Him.

Faith in Christ allows me to encounter the realm of the supernatural power of God beyond the point where fame, fortune and status can take me. The same power she felt within herself that prompted her to move from her place of disappointment and depletion towards the breakthrough to healing, the sick woman felt that power perform the miraculous when she finally pressed her way through to Christ! “Because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” – Mark 5:28-29 NIV

I may never encounter the level of success, from the world’s perspective, achieved by those like Tiger Woods, Whitney Houston, Mel Gibson and others, but the success of the sick woman encourages me and gives me hope that success is attainable when I keep my hope in God to do what is impossible for me to do on my own. Sincere faith, and hope in God, will cause me to move towards Christ, towards the fullness of life He came for me to have. Christ came for me to experience what the sick woman encountered. There are countless people who have encountered fame, fortune and status, but do not have access to what is afforded believers through the privilege of faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t have to seek success in the way the world seeks after it, I just need to seek after Christ and place my hopes, dreams and aspirations into His hands and apply myself allowing grace to carry me towards fulfillment and prosperity.

Success is relative. Success is inevitable for the sincere seeker. From heaven’s perspective success begins with faith, because man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. This is why Jesus can say that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. A Christian’s perspective of success will ultimately determine their effectiveness in fulfilling the mission of being a follower of Christ. There are great Halls of Fame to honor all manner of worldly success and achievement. From heaven’s perspective, it is hearing the voice of affirmation from our heavenly Father say to us, ‘Well done, thy good and faithful servant.’

May God bless you and help you to press, push and persevere, with hope in Him, for the miraculous and encounter the fullness of life Christ came for you to have.

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

– Proverbs 10:4 NIV

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus stated that from the time of John the Baptist to the point of His being present with those who saw Him, the kingdom of God had been advancing forcefully and forceful men lay hold of it (Matthew 11:12). I’ve always understood this passage to mean that the person, power and presence of God is advancing, moving, progressing and affecting change and those who boldly seek to take hold of Him would receive Him and the benefits of taking hold of Him. The Apostle Paul explains it like this, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of  that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” – Philippians 3:12 NIV

Matthew 11:12 speaks to me about being passionate, persistent and deliberate and not passive. Something that advances forcefully is moving deliberately, aggressively with an intense movement. To take hold of a forceful advancement requires me to move with it in order to take hold of it and not just stretch out an arm, or hand to grab it. Both arms stretched out moving in the direction of the forceful advancement with the intent to take hold of it and progress with it. Advancing forcefully gives me the inclination of its intent to keep moving so I must progress with it.

The sick woman, being prompted by God because of her hope in Him, was being drawn by Him towards the advancing kingdom of Jesus Christ and His power to restore and make her whole. The four men who carried the paralytic were fueled by their hope to follow the influence of the continuous movement of God drawing them to Christ and the advancing kingdom of His power. Hope in God is an eternal fuel that galvanized the soul of the sincere seeker and moves them beyond themselves towards the advancing kingdom of Christ and the miraculous work of His Spirit.

Faith in God will cause me to move. Hope in God will cause me to press forward, push through and persevere beyond the reality of my current conditions towards the fullness of life Christ came for me to have. I don’t have to resign to sickness, debt, disappointment, discontentment, discouragement, unfulfillment, defeat, rejection, fear, or a life less than what Christ came for me to have! From the days of John the Baptist up to 2012 the kingdom of God advances forcefully and forceful men take hold of it. The sick woman and the four men who carried the paralytic were forceful in their determination to take hold of what had captured their hearts to believe in God for what they hoped for in Christ.

Diligent means careful and hardworking and is a principle I use often in communicating with my students of my expectation of how I desire them to go about completing their artwork. Forceful hands are diligent, persistent and deliberate. As the sick woman and the four men in Mark’s gospel, God desires for me to pursue Him forcefully with the intent, resolve and passion that will enable me to press through, push forward and empower me to persevere until my faith brings me to the fullness of life Christ came for me to have!

May God bless you and help you to take hold of His advancing kingdom to move you, propel you and draw you to Christ and the fullness of life He came for you to have.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

– Mark 5:34 NIV

The lady, whom the bible refers to as the sick woman, and the four men who carried the paralytic I posted about recently had something in common. They both encountered a crowd around Jesus in their attempt to get to Him to receive what they had hoped for. In fact, in Mark’s gospel it is mentioned that the crowd that surrounded Jesus was pressed against Him at the time the sick woman comes on the scene (See Mark 5). The men who carried the paralytic a few chapters earlier in Mark 2, had to climb up on the roof of the house that was crowded in order to see the fulfillment of their hope.

There are external and internal forces, without and within us, that seek to crowd out our hope and discourage us from continuing the journey of faith. The reality of the external challenges of our circumstances, along with the internal noise of our soul, can deter us, dissuade us and distract us from allowing the fulfillment of our hope to come to pass. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. My hope in God, through faith in Christ, drives me, empowers me and enables me to move forward and look ahead towards the fullness of life Christ came for me to have.

After exhausting all of her financial resources and not having any success with professional help to cure her, even with things getting progressively worse instead of better, the sick woman still had hope in God for her healing! She heard that Jesus had come into town and without hesitation or reservation, she resolved within herself that her faith in God and hope in Him for healing was sufficient enough. So much so, that after 12 years of suffering, depleted resources and the disappointment of seeking assistance from others with no remedy, the sick woman would not allow the crowd that pressed against Jesus to deter her from her ambition and mission.

Through the life of this woman, I actually learned to pray to God that He would help me press forward, push through and persevere beyond my momentary circumstances until I get my breakthrough. I prayed that way because of what I believed the sick woman did to get to her healing. She had to work her way through that crowd that pressed against Jesus, but she would not be denied! She believed Jesus could provide her what she could not accomplish in her own strength or with the help of others. Despite her 12 years of suffering, depletion of funds and the disappointment of not receiving in that time what she had hoped for, every step towards Jesus was making her stronger and bringing her closer to the substance of what she hoped for.

When you feel, or sense, the strength of your hope fading and your faith giving way to the pull of doubt, reach out to God and remember what you are hoping for is worth striving towards regardless of the crowd of circumstances you face. Every step of faith towards Jesus, with your hope in God, is making you stronger and bringing you closer to wholeness, wellness, prosperity and success. Do you believe this?

May God bless you and help you to press forward, push through and persevere beyond where you are currently towards the fullness of life Christ came for you to have.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

– Proverbs 13:12 NIV

At an extremely low point in my life, I opened a book and began reading esteemed author and Pastor Max Lucado’s depiction of the woman with the issue of blood highlighted in Mark’s gospel with greater detail than in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel. The day I read Max Lucado’s account I was stirred on the inside and I recall saying to myself, ‘If I were to write, this is how I would write!’ Max Lucado’s descriptive detail of how he helped me to envision the journey of the woman from her twelve-year affliction to her fateful encounter with Christ, fueled by her hope in God for wholeness and wellness, uplifted me and inspired me. I have been writing ever since!

In fact, the inspired words of Mark’s account of the person regarded as the ‘sick woman,’ inspires the reverberating thought I’ve had on the subject of hope since I have discovered this passage from Proverbs on the subject of hope. During a bible study with my mom and my sister, it was revealed in discussion about being disappointed by hope to which we were led to Romans 5. “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Hope may be delayed, or deferred, but hope does not disappoint. Life has many moments of disappointments, but hope in God will never leave us unfulfilled, dissatisfied or discontent. God pours out His love into us by His Holy Spirit that reaffirms me that He is with me to help me, bless me and satisfy my desires with good things (Psalm 103). I like what Proverbs 13:12 says about hope, because it affirms me in my struggle anticipating, expecting and waiting patiently for God to honor His word to fulfill what He promises and perform what He speaks. Proverbs 13:12 is saying to me God understands the agonizing torment of the soul delayed from its expectancy of fulfillment. Even the bible suggests that one can get sick from hope. Sick with turmoil that comes with waiting, trusting, hoping and believing in God to do the impossible, perform the miraculous and fulfill His promises.

In her heart, the sick woman, filled with hope in God to restore her, was uplifted and inspired to make use of her remaining resources of faith and hope to invest them in Jesus Christ to accomplish what her material resources and access to professional resources could not provide her. God will allow us to come to the end of our ability to do it ourselves, to experience the depletion of resources, and lead us to a place where only He will be able to bring us out of. God will allow us to be in a context in life that positions us to encounter the miraculous work of His grace to fortify our faith and leave us with the opportunity to be a witness and share the testimony of His love and power with others!

So with compassion we may articulate the consolation of listening to a soul sick with hope and be a source of encouragement to them that though they may be sick with hope, their hope in God will not leave them disappointed!

May God bless you and help you to know and rely on His love to fortify your hope in Him, strengthen you, uplift you, inspire you and move you towards the better day and brighter tomorrow.

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

– Romans 8:25 NIV

This week in conversation with my mom I shared the thought of what do you do when the adrenaline of hope wears off and she began to laugh understanding the point I was inferring from the rhetorical inquiry. She then mentioned the word exuberance and recalled one of the Our Daily Bread devotional messages that was addressing the same topic this week also. The book of Galatians has one reply for the rhetorical inquiry of what to do when the exuberance of hope wanes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 NIV The Apostle Paul encourages us to not tire of doing what is right and to not give up. From my early days of my faith walk with Christ this is one of my two most favorite passages of scripture. The second would also speak to the remedy of hope’s fading enthusiasm, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trail, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 NIV

During the time my mother, sister and I met for the bible study, under the theme Believing God for a Better Quality of Life,  there was a bible story that reverberated in my consciousness as a reminder of the illustration of perseverance of faith’s pursuit of the better quality of life and enduring hope’s fading exuberance. The car company Lexus once had a series of car commercials, that I recall, that speak to this subject as well. Lexus ran two commercial campaigns that ended with the slogans, The Passionate Pursuit of Perfection and The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. They both stuck with me as reminders of what my faith walk with Christ should be described as or patterned after.

In the gospel of Mark 5:25-34, there is a story about a woman who is stricken with an affliction of suffering that has lingered for 12 long arduous years. Mark’s gospel highlights that she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and invested all she had financially towards her hope for a cure, but as Mark mentions; things got worse instead of improving. Her hope for a cure, however, did not end with the exhaust of her finances, or the reality of the limitations of the doctor’s inability to resolve her problem.

Even though she spent all she had in seeking a cure and continued to suffer for 12 years, the bible said that when she heard about Jesus, she used her remaining resource of faith in God and hope in Him for healing and restoration, seeking out the One she believed could do what her material resources and the professional resources could not do. Her hope in God for healing drew her to Christ, as Jesus declared in John’s gospel that no one could come to Him unless the Father draws them. As long as the eternal flame of hope is not extinguished I am always in position for the miraculous, the impossible to become possible and the supernatural work of God’s grace to carry me beyond my limitations and circumstances of lack.

May God help you and bless you, to instill within you a spiritual resolve and internal fortitude fortified by the inspiration of hope that will carry you through times of trial and testing towards the place of wholeness, restoration and wellness God promises to those who believe.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

– Hebrews 11:1 NIV

In the book of James we learn that faith without works, or actions, is a dead faith. Which is to say there is no faith alive or present, because there are no actions that support the belief one has in the outcome of what they hope for. Recently I have learned through the current bible study my mother, sister and I participate in Excel in 2012 and Beyond that I need to take action with what I hope in God to do for me. Hoping for something without doing anything more often leaves me in a perpetual state of disappointment, feeling unfulfilled and discouraged. I am in a constant state of waiting for something to happen without any initiative invested to ensure it will come to pass. This sounds more like wishful thinking to me than hope described in the scripture.

Through this current bible study, I have also learned that if I take action consistently to do the little things (short-term goals) required of me to put myself in position to achieve long-term goals I will experience two things: 1) Longer periods of happiness feeling good about the progress being made with what I am seeking to achieve, 2) The immediate satisfaction and gratification of achieving short-term goals towards my desired accomplishment will fuel my motivation to continue to pray, seek God and do the necessary things to receive what I am hoping for! Believing itself is an action. I can choose to believe and have faith fueled by hope, or I can choose to not believe.

Faith is the substance and the evidence of what I hope for and cannot currently see. Faith ignites within me the assurance and confidence that what I hope for in God will come to pass. What is ignited within me begins to emanate from within and resonate throughout my being and makes me resolute in my conviction God will answer my prayers. This faith is supported by what God proclaims in His word about me and my circumstances and my relationship to Him that when I align what I hope for with His word and believe He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, I become certain that what is unseen currently will come to pass. I will begin to declare to myself and others my assurance in Him who gives life to the dead and declares what is currently not what it ought to be.

The book of Romans (chapter 5) teaches us that hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love to us by His Spirit. Because He loves us, He will not allow our hope in Him to be disappointed. Life is filled with moments of disappointment, but through faith in God, He can take our disappointing moments and work them together for good in a way that will make up for the moments of disappointment we feel. Like the four men who carried the paralytic, we must not be deterred or dissuaded when the crowd of life’s circumstances tries to make us believe we cannot get to the One who holds the fulfillment of our faith in the palm of His hand. In Romans 4 the bible said that against all hope, in hope Abraham believed in what God promised and it strengthened him and kept him from weakening in his faith believing God had the power to do what He had promised! Abraham believed God, but then he had to leave his comfort zone towards the place God had promised to give him, his place of destiny. Faith in God will cause me to move being sure He will do what his word says to help me experience the fullness of life Christ came for me to have!

May God bless you and help you become fueled with hope to strengthen you in your faith to move towards the place of fulfillment and destiny God has purposed for you to receive in Christ Jesus.

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and , after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralytic man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”

– Mark 2:3-5 NIV

Since discovering this passage and the manner it was illuminated to me, I have always been enamored with the first part of verse 5 of Mark 2, “When Jesus saw their faith.”  Four men, with compassion, carried a paralytic to Jesus, fueled with hope, believing Jesus had power over the current condition of the paralytic to help him in his current circumstances. I say they were fueled with hope, because the crowd that surrounded Jesus did not deter them or dissuade them to stop or turn back.

Scripture does not reveal in Mark’s gospel how far the four men had traveled carrying the paralytic. Neither does it indicate how tired the men were from their distance traveled. Four men, with their heart full of compassion for the one they were carrying, were deliberate and sincere in seeking the One who could help them with their concerns for the paralytic. The bible doesn’t even indicate the nature of the relationship between the four men and the paralytic. What the bible does say is that when they came upon the scene where Jesus was and saw there was a crowd, without hesitation they made their way to the roof of the house. Fueled by hope and prompted by their love (compassion) for the paralytic, the four men began digging until they could see Jesus from their vantage point on the rooftop. As they lowered the mat carrying the paralytic through the roof to the place where Jesus was located a profound thing happened. Jesus saw their faith.

It is a simple, but powerful message to me about the necessity of taking action that moves God to act on our behalf to help us and bless us. Jeremiah 29:11-13 told us we will find God when we seek Him with our whole heart and encounter the life with hope and a future. This past Sunday, after the 6pm service, I shared with my sister, as we exited the church, that sincere faith in God will cause us to move. We will not remain in the same place in life when our faith makes connection with God, because it is His expressed desire to help us encounter the fullness of life Christ came for us to have. These 4 men were fueled by that same faith.

The bible teaches us that it is God who works in us both to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). When these 4 men resolved to seek after Christ, interceding on behalf of the paralytic, God then fueled their hope, fed their passion and empowered them to follow through towards the fulfillment of what they hoped for until it came to pass. The bible teaches that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. Their sincere seeking drew them to Christ and their actions to get to Him allowed their faith to be seen. God takes notice of our actions inspired by faith! 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” God wants to see our faith in action, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is and a rewarder to them that diligently seek Him as the 4 men did on behalf of the paralytic.

May God see your faith in action and reward you for your sincere seeking that will carry you and those you pray for to Christ and experience His grace to allow you to encounter the fullness of life He came for us to have.