Jesus Interrupts

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Now, for one last interruption.

One day, Jesus took the disciples for a boat ride. They all settled in and Jesus even fell asleep. The wind began picking up speed as the waves splashed against the boat. The men struggled with the wind and the waves as long as they could then shouted for Jesus to help them. The Son of God stood, rebuked the elements, and commanded them to “Be still!” 

Can you imagine their relief? But then, Jesus rebuked them. He said,

“Why are you so afraid ? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:40-41

Bad as the storm was, they were overwhelmed by Jesus’ power.

By this point they have heard lots of teaching and parables from their master; they have even seen miracles of healing. But this touched them personally, their own bodies, and they lived the miracle themselves.

He would bring radical changes in their thinking. Man-made rules on the outside is different from a nurturing spirit within. They must learn to be humble not proud. They must become servants, not expect to be served. Jesus will not only be a servant, but he will suffer, be tortured and crucified.

If they think controlling the wind and waves is powerful, they will discover that rising from the dead will come later. Jesus will not be a political king, he will be their redeemer.

This motley troupe of working Galileans will have their lives interrupted, their minds overwhelmed, and their paths directed far from home. They will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and will carry the message to many lands. Most will be martyred.

This may not be God’s plan nor expectation for us, but He does have ways of interrupting our lives as well. Interruptions are not necessarily bad as we have seen in these lessons. Often our life interruptions bring positive results, maybe growing, painful happenings, but potentially steps forward.

I pray I will remember my words when the storms come and interrupt by pleasant boat ride. I pray I will not hear him say, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Even as I write this, I think of my moaning and groaning over the dread of the big bad word—marketing.

He gave me the vision for these three books I’ve written and he has seen me through so many steps, so many times of doubting. Surely I can trust him to sustain me through this part again. Can you tell? I’m preaching to myself. Oh dear, the tears are coming.

May we all see his interruptions as opportunities.

Blessings,

~ Joyce ~ 

Working Interruptions

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Are you becoming aware of the interruptions in your life? How was your prayer life this week? (See “Prayer Interruptions“)

What about interruptions at work? Oh, many of us can identify with that, can’t we? Whether we have or had a paying job or we look at our work at home, nothing is more frustrating than to be interrupted when you have your mind set on a task.

Jesus experienced a dramatic interruption like that. You remember the time when he was in a home in Capernaum doing his main work—preaching and teaching? A crowd had gathered inside and outside the home listening to his every word.

Some concerned friends tried their best to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus, but they couldn’t work their way in with the man on his pallet. Many homes had stairs going up the side of the house to the roof where they might go to get cooler in the evenings. One creative friend said, “Let’s take him up the steps and let him down through the roof.

. . . they made an opening and, after digging through it in the roof above Jesus, they lowered the mat with the paralyzed man lying on it. Mark 2;4

(I envision bits of straw and dirt floating down with the pallet.) Rather than seeing this as an interruption to his preaching, Jesus saw the faith of these friends.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

Notice that Jesus didn’t acknowledge any faith on the part of the crippled man. Evidently the man had not been a believer in Christ. Jesus took the opportunity of this interruption to teach two things. First, that he can forgive sin. 

The second lesson—sprinkled in the crowd were some teachers of the law. Jesus knew what they were thinking. Forgiving sin is only something God can do. Who does he think he is that he can forgive sin? Blasphemy! Jesus also knew that to call himself the “Son of Man” means one who is entrusted by God with authority and sovereign power. So Jesus said,

“Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic: ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” Mark 2:8-9 

Jesus turns then to the paralytic and says, “I tell you, get up, take up your mat and go home.” Mark 2:11

Jesus used this interruption to teach, to heal, and to convey his divinity, both to the amazed crowd and the befuddled teachers of the law.

Can we find growth in those times of interruption?

One day our education minister shared an experience. She said, “I’m a list maker. I came home from church and with frustration told my husband that I did not get one thing done on my list today. He wisely responded, ‘So, you were interrupted with people and did ministry instead?'” Hmm.

~ Joyce ~ 

 

 

 

Ministry Interruptions

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

It’s Monday. I need to call a member in our Bible Study class to get an update on her recent problems. Today is my monthly appointment with the chiropractor and then off to the “Y” for water aerobics. Gotta keep that arthritis in check. 

My publisher wants a list of the corrections so I need to finish reading the manuscript and make my list. Then there’s the weekly blog to finish and this is my week to teach the Bible lesson at church, not to mention that company is coming and I have to clean the house. 

Do you ever have weeks like that when it seems like one thing interrupts another? Even ministry opportunities are interrupted?

We are in Capernaum this week with Jesus. He is ready to start his ministry and he begins inviting some fishermen to join him.

Jesus interrupts Simon Peter and Andrew when they shove back to shore after a no-show fish night. He tells them to throw their nets back out. Amazingly, they catch a boat load of fish. Simon is humbled and falls at Jesus’ feet in submission. Later, James and John give up their fishing as well to become fishers of men.

Jesus’ ministry has begun. One Sabbath day, Jesus goes to the synagogue and interrupts the humdrum, church-going people’s lives with “amazing” teaching, but then, Jesus is interrupted when a demon-possessed man suddenly cries out,

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Mark 1:24

Jesus gives an immediate stern response to this interruption.

“Be quiet! Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. Mark 1:25-26

The people are not only amazed with his teaching, but also his authority. The ministry opportunities don’t end there. Jesus goes with James, John, and Andrew to Peter’s house and heals Peter’s mother-in-law. (If you watch this scene on “The Chosen,” it is a stirring and slightly humorous scene, given the mother-in-law’s temperament.)

This has already been a busy day for Jesus, but it doesn’t end there. Word spreads fast throughout the town.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed. Mark 1:12

Into the night Jesus heals.

And my friends, God’s Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives and in our hearts and minds as well, to transform us, to heal our brokenness, and to give us strength for the next ministry task. Most importantly, he gives us joy in doing it! Especially when we minister with hope.

Sometimes ministry opportunities come in waves along with other duties. Help us Lord to remember Jesus’ forbearance even with all the interruptions he endured.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:11-12 

~ Joyce ~

Tempting Interruptions

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

You have an assigned task to perform. Maybe it came from the committee you’re on. Maybe it’s a family task you promised to accomplished. Maybe it’s a self-appointed task you doled out.

You’re thinking, “Why did I ever agree to this? I have a million other things to do. I know I’m the one who should so it, but it’s so hard to stick with it.”

Who knows what Jesus was thinking that day as he walked into the desert. He had been on an elevated plane just yesterday—his baptism and the voice of God assuring him that he was the Son of God. All those years of his mother’s miraculous stories were coming to fruition.

He may have thought, “Why, then, has the Spirit led me into this desert?” 

I wonder, what did he do there for forty days and forty nights? Pray, recite Scripture? Meditate, trying to hear a word or a thought from God? Search out places to lay his head at night? Try to find a source of water?

Did God speak to him audibly? Did the Spirit move in his mind and soul to remind him of Godly attitudes? Did he realize this was going to be a fast to prepare him for things that lay ahead? 

Was he coming to realize his fulfillment in the Scriptures? Did God gradually prepare him for the cross? Was he sweating because of the desert heat or because of what he saw on the horizon?

 Jesus would be physically weak without food by now, his energy level at a low ebb. At just such a time, the tempter came to “interrupt” his time with God.

Scripture says the tempter came to him and said,

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to be made bread.” Matthew 4:3 

Jesus would not dilute this time with God even if his desire for food was at a peak. Just as the Israelites depended on God for the manna, Jesus would depend on God, not on his own supernatural power for his needs. Jesus said,

“It is written, man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:2

Then the devil took Jesus to a high point at the Temple with a 100-foot drop. “Jump off,” Satan said and then, he quoted Scripture—

“He will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their hands . . .” Matthew 4:6

A dramatic fall and being caught in mid-air would certainly attract attention with the many gathered around the Temple. But that wasn’t Jesus’ mission.

“It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Matthew 4:7

Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and declared, “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus had had enough.

“Away from me Satan! For it is written ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Matthew 4:10

May we remember Jesus’ example when we are tempted to take short cuts.

~ Joyce ~

Attitudes – Kindness, Gentleness

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Recently, I taught our Sunday Bible study class. We had been studying the Holy Spirit and had a lesson on the fruit that the Spirit desires to produce in us. I realized my fruit branch was lacking in a couple of areas.

Jesus speaks of being connected to the vine. In fact, He spends over half of John 15 with a visual, almost a parable. Picture a thick grape vine with many branches. In his example, he wants us to label the thick vine “Jesus” and one of the branches “me.”

  JESUS

  ME

Jesus said,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

So, I must cling to this main vine (Jesus)—remain in Him, abide, dwell in Him. We know what it is to dwell on a thought. Your mind keeps coming back to that thought over and over. That’s what He wants us to do with Him. Dwell on Him, draw strength from Him, gain wisdom from Him, search for what He desires in us.

There’s a gardener in the parable. We’re to label him “God.”

 God

In your mind, draw a pair of pruning shears in God’s hand.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

With these thoughts in mind, I looked at the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 I tend to have strong opinions which is fine, but at times, I may express them in a way that negates my good reasoning. I engaged in a discussion with a young family member about tattoos and went on about the disadvantages. It came across with bitterness and heat. I realized that the “gentle” grapes in my cluster were looking pretty drawn up and dry.

Gentleness is not milk toast, “mamby-pamby” behavior. It is strength—but under control, coupled with kindness. So, I wrote a letter to this dear one, giving examples of times when she had painted certain colors or symbols on things but grew tired of them. An emblem may not be as dear to us after ten years. Why not paint it on paper, frame it, hang it on a wall and enjoy seeing it all the time? When it becomes tiresome or out of date, one can take it down, put it in a memory box, give it away, or throw it away. But if it is tattooed on you, it is there forever. 

Well, you get the idea. I apologized for my previous quick words and harsh attitude. Kindness and gentleness goes a long way. It produces plump juicy fruit.

If the Lord has to prune us, it may be time for some self examination.

~ Joyce ~

Attitudes -Trusting

    Eyes to See

Multiple aspects are involved in the making of a book: researching, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Right now, I’m hanging in the publishing phase, waiting anxiously to hold that book in my hands. 

Meanwhile, I’m at the dreaded step of marketing. In recent years, I have actually used the word that I usually refrain from using about anything—the word “hate.” I would get in a tizzy every time I thought about marketing. But recently, I have been thinking more about that attitude. Of course, we tend not to like anything that is difficult for us to do.

Instead of fretting and dreading, God has been working on me (again!) to trust him with this. Trusting means no complaining. It means relinquishing your inaptitude, your fear, and your dread into his hands. Jesus reminds me,

“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” John 14:1

Jesus says, “The issue is not your strength, but mine, which is limitless.” It demands that we seek Him in earnest and determine to follow the steps He brings to mind.

Sarah Young in “Jesus Calling” is my go-to lady for morning devotions. Seems like every other day the devotion centers on trusting. I guess God feels like I am a slow learner.

Sarah says, “Waiting, trusting, and hoping are intricately connected, like golden strands interwoven to form a strong chain.” Trusting is the central strand because it is the response God desires the most.

It reminds me of one of my life verses.

Those who wait (or hope) in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31

In the process of waiting and hoping in the Lord, we step back and let Him lead, trusting Him to control things, if you will. As Sarah would say, “Keep your antennae out to pick up even the faintest gimmer of His presence.” The Lord cries out to us,

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Remembering that,  

We walk by faith and not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7

Is something dragging you down? Are you growing to despise it, hate it? Is fixing it beyond you? Are you at the end of your rope with it?

Perhaps you need a new chain to wrap around you, a chain with strands of waiting and hoping and that important center strand of trust.

Breathe in His peace, breathe out your frustration. Place yourself in His hands.

~ Joyce~

Honor vs. Shame – The Woman

      Searching His Word
       Seeking His Heart

We thought about shame and honor last week in the incident with Jairus, the synagogue ruler. Right in the middle of that situation came a woman who had had a bleeding problem.

Jesus is already on his way to the house of Jairus, but the woman follows close behind in the middle of a packed crowd. She is sure that if she can just touch Jesus the healer, maybe she will be healed of this terrible condition that has plagued her all these years.

At last she finds an opening, reaches out, and touches the edge of his robe. Instantly, she feels something stir inside her body, something warm and healing. She feels a surge of energy that she hasn’t felt in years. As she moves back away from the crowd; her spirit soars in gratitude.

Suddenly, Jesus stops and looks around.

“Who touched me?” Luke 8:45

Peter points out that many people are all around him, pressing in to follow him, but Jesus is emphatic.

“Someone has touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8:46

(This is the only time that Jesus makes such a statement recorded in Scripture.)

For twelve years the woman has dealt with this bleeding problem.  She has suffered weakness, separation from her family, and community shame. The law declares that no one is to touch her or anything she has touched. It is as though she’s like a leper.

No doctors have been able to help her, and she is depleted of what little resources she has had.

Her great joy in being healed turns to fear as Jesus questions who touched him. Should she slip away and hide? Should she freeze and wait for him to move on?

She decides that she must confess what she has done and falls trembling at his feet. Her story rolls out as she describes her years of agony, pain, and defeat, but the victory of Jesus’ healing.

Jesus lifts her up and says,

“Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48

Jesus has brought honor as he acknowledges the faith of this shamed woman, even as he is on his way to help a prestigious man of the community. Jesus lifted her from shame to honor. Wouldn’t we like to know the “rest of her story”?

Have you ever done something you’re ashamed of? Perhaps you were intentionally unkind or made sinful decisions. Or perhaps, like this woman, you endured an incident that was not of your own making. Or perhaps you suffered from a family relationship.

Jesus has the power to forgive, heal, and restore. He wants more than anything to find you reaching out in faith. He will take your hand and lift you from shame to honor. 

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'” Isaiah 41:10

Reach out to Him today.

~ Joyce ~

 

Honor vs. Shame – Jairus

     Searching His Word
      Seeking His Heart

In the last three weeks, we have been looking at the way Jesus included women: in His teachings, in His parables, and in His healings. These male/female incidents were brought to my attention in a recent Bible study about “Jesus and Women” by Kristi McClelland.

In our western world, we think right or wrong. We weigh things on the scales of justice, a horizontal outlook, so to speak.

In the eastern world, they have a vertical outlook, shame vs. honor. In that context, Jesus practiced biblical justice which happened when the honorable reached down to the shameful and restored their honor—vertical thinking.

Let’s watch Him do this with both a man and a woman in Luke, chapter 8.

Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, is in distress because his twelve-year-old daughter is deathly ill. Some of Jairus’s friends are not too keen on Jesus and His teachings. Were they among those who peered in on the dinner at the house of the new convert, Matthew? Perhaps one of them had ridiculed Jesus for eating with “sinners.”

Jairus is desperate for his ailing daughter. He has seen and heard about the healings of Jesus, and so this heart-sick father, this important community figure does the unthinkable. He falls at Jesus’ feet, pleading for help. How shameful.

Jesus prepares to go with Jairus when He is interrupted with another emergency (which we will cover next week.)

Just as Jesus is again ready to proceed with His trip to Jairus’s house, someone (maybe one of the disapproving leaders) comes from Jairus’s house to report,

“Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” Luke 8:49.

Ouch! How cold and calculating that feels. Sounds like they’re thinking Jairus’s pleading and bowing has put him to shame. Let’s shame him some more.

Jesus gives encouragement to Jairus.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Luke 8:50

When they arrive at the house, flute players are playing their nasally mournful tunes, neighbors are hovering about, and the hired mourners are wailing in loud shrills. As Jesus and Jairus make their way through the noise and confusion, Jesus commands them,

“Stop wailing. She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. Luke 8:52

I find this astounding. These fake mourners go from wailing to laughter and ridicule within a moment.

Jesus proceeds into the house and heals this beloved daughter.

Let’s not miss the fact that while Jairus showed humility and belief, he had been laden with shame from his friends and neighbors. In justice and righteousness, Jesus reached down to lift Jairus from shame to honor. 

Let’s take note that He can do the same for you and me. We can be weeping in our worlds of discontent, anxiety, indecision or whatever brings us to our knees. When we humble ourselves before Him, the Lord can lift us up out of the murky clay and bring us to a place of honor in his sight.

May it be so for you today.

~ Joyce ~

 

Healing – Men and Women

 Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

We continue our search into the way Jesus was fair in his dealings with both men and women—rare indeed in a day when women were basically second class citizens.

Early in his ministry, Jesus began healing people with diseases and maladies of all sorts. One day, as Jesus amazed them with his teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum, a demon-possessed man stood up right in the middle of Jesus’ message. The man cried out at the top of his voice,

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Luke 4:34

Jesus dealt firmly with the situation.

“Be quiet! Come out of him!” Luke 4:35

The evil power of the demon threw the man down and left him. Now the people were amazed, not only with Jesus’ teaching, but also with his power and authority.

In the next verses, Jesus leaves the synagogue and goes to Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law is suffering with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her.

So he bent over her and rebuked the fever and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. Luke 4:39

Soon, people were lining up to seek healing on into the night. You can bet that included both men and women.

Our second paring comes in chapter seven of Luke. By this time, word of Jesus’ healings had reached many ears, including that of a Roman centurion. The beloved servant of this centurion was sick and about to die, so the centurion sent word to Jesus asking him to heal the man.

When Jesus had walked part way there, the centurion sent a message saying he was not worthy for Jesus to come to his house,

“. . . just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Luke 7:7

. . . Jesus was amazed and said, “I tell you I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Luke 7:9

(Only twice does Scripture record Jesus being “amazed.”) When the men returned to the house they found the servant well.

Immediately after this happening, Luke records that Jesus and his followers went to the town of Nain. They came upon a funeral procession. The young man in the coffin was the only son of  a widowed woman.

When Jesus saw the mother—

. . .  his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Luke 7:14

A wealthy Roman soldier and a poor widowed mother, a demon-possessed man and a feverish mother-in-law, male or female—the thing Jesus saw was their need.

Do you have a need for healing? Physical healing? A spirit that has gone stale? A mind that is confused? A heart that is breaking?

Perhaps like David, you want to pray,

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows the way. Psalm 142:3

~ Joyce ~

 

Biblical Men/Biblical Women

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

As we look through the Scriptures, we see that it was definitely a man’s world. We will see in the next few blogs how Jesus raised women out of their lowly estate to give them value. Coupled with that, we will see how the Mid-Eastern mind works compared to our Western mind.

You will be amazed at how Luke couples a man’s experience and a woman’s experience in many of his accounts. You will likely know these stories, but like me, you may not have seen them as two in one.

It starts even at Jesus’ birth. You may remember in my recent Christmas blogs how the angel Gabriel came to both Zechariah and to Mary.

Gabriel is named only in the Old Testament book of Daniel and here in Luke. To Zechariah he says,

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, . . . Luke 1:19

Then to Mary.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth . . . to a virgin pledged to be married . . . Luke 1:26-27

God sent his great warrior angel to an old faithful priest, but also to a young simple maiden. Both had a major role to play in God becoming man. One would sire the forerunner and the other would bear the Savior.

Move forward forty days after Jesus birth. Mary must go to the Temple to offer sacrifice for her purification. Being poor, her offering would be two pigeons or two doves.

Mary must also present her baby to the Lord, as it is written in the Law—

“Every first born male is to be consecrated to the Lord.” Luke 2:23

Now we meet our next pair, Simeon a priest and Anna a prophetess. Both are older; both have longed to see the Messiah.

It had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. On the day Mary and Joseph came to the Temple, Simeon felt compelled to go to the Temple courts. As he lifted up 40-day old Jesus, the Spirit of God fell upon him and he declared,

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.” Luke 2:29-30

84 year-old Anna had a seven-year marriage until her husband died. She spent the rest of her years at the Temple worshiping night and day, fasting and praying. She stepped into this scene precisely when Simeon made his declaration.

. . . she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38

No doubt this gave Mary much more to ponder in those early days.

So from the beginning, we see men and women playing important roles in the life of Jesus.

Male or female, what is God’s role for you this week? It will not likely be as dramatic as these, but He has plans for all of us. Don’t miss your opportunity! 

~ Joyce ~