Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Go Back or Continue?

One of the places that seemed to grab me was on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  If you look at a map of Israel and pay attention to the shape of the Sea of Galilee you will notice it looks like a harp from Biblical times. We were in the Northwest rounded area when we came upon a small church right on the shore. At first I thought we were at a monastery, which we were, but why?

As we walked in the doors of the church we learned that upon this part of the shoreline was where Luke 21 had taken place.

I pulled out my Bible and read this passage (Why don’t you do the same and then we’ll continue.)
Can you imagine all that had been going on at that time?  Jesus was placed on trial, beaten, crucified, buried, risen, had appeared to the disciples in the upper room and had breathed the Holy Spirit on them.  BUT what did they do?  They went fishing?  Ummm ok? They just went back to what they knew.

Take a look at verse 7.  
When John said to Peter, “It is the Lord” what did Peter do?  He put on his outer garment because he had been working and had removed it.  Have you ever considered why he put it back on?  Do you think it was because every time something unknown happened or he was no longer with Jesus he resorted back to what he had known (his secular occupation)and this time he wasn’t going to let Jesus find him doing that again? Do you think Peter maybe tried to cover up his real actions?

I love how Jesus didn’t let him skate by because in verse 11 it tells us that 153 fish were caught and the net was not broken.  Hmmmm…think the net might not have been broken because Jesus wanted him to know you can’t hide or cover up this and I am who I say I am?

As we stood on the shore we speculated what the 153 fish meant.  You know numbers are important in the Bible.  One suggestion was that each number 1, 5, 3 was representing the letter in the Aramaic alphabet and it suggested something like I AM God. Another suggestion was that the 153 represented the number of known kingdoms across the world at that time and the disciples were to go and preach the Gospel to each of them.  I don’t think we know exactly what the 153 means.  I do know that the meaning of the number of fish caught that day is not something we should be debating but both of the suggestions are correct.  Jesus is the Great I AM and He has commanded us to fish for men all across this round sphere we call home.

As I walked back up the sloop to our ride and turned to view again where this encounter with Jesus, Peter and the disciple that taken place; I wondered.  “After being on this soil, placing my feet where Jesus walked will I simply go back to my home to do what I had always done or will I continue on to what I and other Christians have been called to do?”

What about you?  After going on this virtual journey to the land where Jesus walked will you read your Bible differently? Will you more importantly go back to what you have always been doing or will you be more proactive in sharing about The One who calmed the sea and your heart? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Place of Outpouring, House of Grace…Pool of Bethesda

The Old City beckoned us that morning.  We had traveled all throughout the land of Israel but this day we would make our way through one of the many gates and walk the cobblestone streets. As we entered in through the Sheep gate we were quickly aware of the Biblical location noted in John Chapter 5.  We were standing at the entrance to the Pool of Bethesda. 

Please take a minute to read about this account in the first 15 verses of that chapter.

Captured by the grandeur of the place I let my mind drift to image what it would have been like in the days of Jesus.  Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem for at least one of the three major feast throughout the year.  The streets and gates had to be bustling with people coming to the old city of David to celebrate and offer their required sacrifices. It was the custom that a person could not go to the temple until they had bathed and purified themselves. So many would have entered through the sheep gate then went straight to the pool for cleansing.  Not only did you find the travels but as this passage shared, a great multitude of sick people lay by the pools waiting for the pools to stir.
As we read as a group the account in Chapter 5, verse 5 grabbed my attention.  “Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years”

Thirty-eight years!  Waiting for the water to stir and to be the first in for healing!

Thirty-eight years!


Go on and re-read verse 6. “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time…”

Hold the phone!  Jesus knew he had been in that condition a long time.  Yes Jesus knows all but think with me a bit.

How often does Luke tell us that Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover? Every year (Luke 2:41)

What age does the Bible tells us Jesus went to the temple and amazed the Scholars? Twelve (Luke 2;42)

Jesus’ earthly ministry began at the age of 30 and He taught for 3 years before His crucifixion.
SO….do you think that maybe Jesus had seen this man lying beside the pool all His life?

Do you think that maybe the whole time this man lay there thinking he was unable and unnoticed that Jesus had him in his sights the whole time?

Waiting for the perfect time to bring HIM glory!

Oh friend, are you sitting beside your own “pool” waiting for a touch of healing?  Are you feeling forgotten, overlooked and discouraged?  Jesus knows and sees you!  You may be feeling like the time for a miracle has long passed by and it will never happen.  Jesus sees and already knows.  He has a perfect time planned for you and will use you to bring Him glory.  

Just keep watching for The Living Water to stir…It will!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Who do you say that I am?

Know the time, the culture, what is happening and the landscape of what you are reading in the Bible.  Especially where Jesus talked because He often used the context of where He was or what He was doing to communicate a point.

This has been said to me over and over by Bible teachers. Often times the dimensions were easy to piece together but other times it left my mind with a giant “HUH?” I don’t know if you ever did but I would often think well that was random.  Why did Jesus say that and why that way?

As I traveled through this chosen country many of the accounts in the Bible became clearer. Especially the account of the conversation with his disciples in Matthew 16:13-20.  In the area of Caesarea Philippi, --sorry got to take a side note here--
I was told that I pronounced this region incorrectly; see if you do as well.  I would pronounce it as “Cess-a-rea”.  BUT the guide quickly informed me that Rome never had a Cesser they had a Caesar and it should be pronounced Caesar- rea.  Oh please don’t tell me I am the only one that mispronounced that all my life. 

You learn something new every day….well on this trip it seemed like 100 something new daily.

Anyway back to the region of Caesarea Philippi.  This is in the northern area in Israel and was filled with pagan worship.  A search into the Old Testament shows where a king brought pagan worship to the area and it was never fully demolished. 

As we exited our chariot, named by our guide but it was actually a people mover bus, we walked past a few relics of the time then found ourselves face to face with a rocky bluff.  Scattered on the face of the bluff were carved niches for idols of many kinds, ruins of temples to little “g” gods like Pan and even a bottomless pit for sacrifices. 

So in this passage in Matthew, Jesus is walking through the region with his disciples who couldn’t help but observe all the influence of the pagan worship.  Maybe He saw them walking through the area with their eyes wide open and mouths agape like mine were on that day.  Maybe He observed the clicks of the cameras of their eyes snapping images left and right much like my camera shutter was doing.

As Jesus observed them He asked a couple of questions.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“But who do you say I am?”

These questions are relevant just as much today as they were when Jesus originally asked them.

Many people today still believe he was a prophet, a good teacher and some even think he was a liar or crazy man.

But the question still remains for you…Who do you say He is?

Does the things surround your life sway your opinion?

If Jesus asked you today what would you answer? Who do you say that He is?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How could they not see?

Stony ruins lay just beyond the trees providing shade.  Here a house, a mitzvah (ceremonial bath), a partial synagogue now only provided a residence for rock hyrax.  Excavations show that this once was a vibrant town that inhabited many people.  But what happened?  Where did the people go?

Matthew 11:20-28 gives us insight to the fate of this town because where I was standing was in the center of Korazin, a town denounced by Jesus.  Jesus had once walked the stony paths that wound around these ruins long ago.  The people there had seen the miracles that He performed but they stubbornly refused to repent from their sins.  They saw but didn’t believe therefore suffered a greater punishment than the wicked cities of Tyre and Sodom. (Cities that didn’t see Jesus.)

As my eyes traced the outlines of the former buildings my thoughts wandered back to the plane ride to this country.  The woman sitting next to me was an Israeli. As she inquired about why I was on the long plane ride she said: “oh you are going to walk where that Jesus walked.  He was only a good teacher but the Son of God?  No” As I sat there before my feet ever hit the soil of the Promised Land, I wondered: “How, how could you be from this place and be blind of who He is?”

The voice of our guide snapped my thoughts back and as he quoted scripture. Here I stood seeing the verses come to life into a real space.  How could they have had Jesus walk among them and not see nor know?
Then it was like Jesus whispered to my soul…”And you? How many times have you been blind to what I was doing?  There were times when I worked something out right in front of you, times when through my handiwork I orchestrated events that none other could have done but yet you were blind to me as well.” Yes I, too, was guilty of being blind.

In verse 25 of the passage listed above Jesus mentions two kinds of people in His prayer:
1.      Those that are wise and clever in their own eyes
2.      Those that are childlike.

God hides things from those wise and clever in their own regards BUT He reveals to those that are childlike.  

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Are you being wise and clever in your understanding of things going on around you? Or are you leaning with childlike faith into the One who walks among you? 

Even if you think you are walking along your own stony path with ruins on each side, Jesus is there working. Don’t be blind but look around and pray that you will see!

Open the eyes of our hearts Lord, that we may see Him!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Fifth Gospel

“THE LAND is the fifth Gospel,” wrote Cyril of Jerusalem in 348 AD. “After one has seen the old cities and landscapes,” wrote St. Jerome a century later, “one reads the Bible with different eye.”

Those statements ring so true.  After walking where Jesus walked, gazing upon the Land of Milk and Honey and experiencing a pilgrimage of a lifetime, I WILL NEVER READ THE BIBLE THE SAME WAY AGAIN! The Bible leapt from the page and became a visual in my mind forevermore.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…the Four Gospels. 

The first four books of the New Testament that declares the good news and tell the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry as He walked this earth as God-head in bodily form.  I have read these but I never thought or even considered a fifth gospel.  When our guide asked us what the fifth gospel was, I could sense the muscles in my face contort and my eyes squint with questions forming.  I think he saw it too.

Fifth gospel?  Well that’s a new one on me.  So our guide explained, “These lands, ruins and cities will declare the good news and testify of Jesus as you travel your way through it.”  This country that takes 14 seconds to fly across the width and 45 minutes to fly the length is a slice of tranquility surrounded by chaos (well until recent days) that cries out about The One that came before and those that paved the path and those that walked with and served him.

Our guide was correct!

The Sea of Galilee, Capernum, Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, Bethlehem and so many more shouted the authenticity of the Bible. My  favorite?  Well to begin with you are asking a gal that has trouble deciding what to eat when given the opportunity to go out, so of course the answer is ALL of THEM!!!!

Over the next few Tuesdays I will try to give you a glimpse of the land that declares The Light of the World.  That’s if I can narrow it down and not write a novel each day. J

But before we get started may I ask you…Are you maybe the Sixth gospel?  I have often heard that sometimes we are the only gospel that people read. 

Luke 19:37-40, “Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  and some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Are you declaring The One and Only with your actions before others? How are you displaying Him for others?  Don’t keep silent we don’t want rocks shouting louder than us!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Get Ready!

New post coming every Tuesday beginning Sept. 16th.

Can't wait to share my summer adventure with you!!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking for Bread Crumbs???

As a child I loved the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Now let me tell you...that is very odd because as a child I was NOT the adventurous type.
I mean really, two kids going out into the dark scary forest and leaving a trail of bread crumbs to find their way home? Nope wasn't happening with this girl!

The story during that time of my life was exactly that...a story.  Full of things that I wouldn't dare do on my own because you know good and well my mind thought I would run into that witch and be trapped so why not let those kids just do it.

Now that I am older the adventurer in me has surfaced a little more.  I love stepping out and finding things...OK maybe not in the dark outside but I do love seeking stuff.

Maybe that is what drew me to read the book, "Chasing God" by Angie Smith.

At one point she talks about Thomas wanting to see the nail scarred hands and needing to place his hand in those of the Lord.  She even discusses Thomas' question, "how do we know where you are going?"

Let me share with you what Angie says about Jesus saying "Follow Me."  "I am the way".

"Which is why the Lord explains that He is the way, because our eyes shouldn't be on the ground, looking for bread crumbs that lead to Him.  Because if they are, they aren't beholding that for which they were created to see:  Him."

My thoughts swirled with these thoughts.

How often am I dropping bread crumbs to get back to where I was?
Do I spend more time looking down for those bread crumbs and not looking up at The One who blessed the bread to feed the multitude...even me?

I want to be that adventurer but not one that steps out with a back up plan.  Rather one that is led by the Spirit where my trust is without borders or bread crumbs.  I don't want to chase God. I want to abide in Him.

How about you?