Walk by the Spirit

S (Scripture) – Mark 7:5-9 “The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?’  And He said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.  BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”  He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.'”

O (Observation) – Lord, it is possible to honor You with our lips, but keep our hearts far away from You.  It is possible to worship You on Sunday, sing all the right songs, raise our hands and proclaim You as Lord of our lives, but then continue to follow our own selfish desires the rest of the week.

A (Application) – You call us into an intimate relationship with You, built on faith and trust, deepened with vulnerability and yielding to Your Holy Spirit’s leading.  You will not force Yourself on anyone, but if we are seeking the abundant life that You promise in John 10:10, we must recognize that it only comes from a genuine relationship with You…not a casual history of church attendance.  Going to church is a wonderful thing, but in and of itself, does not draw someone into maturity as a Christ-follower.  It’s all about our hearts – are we desperately seeking You and Your kingdom?  Are we crying out for You and desiring Your wisdom?  Are we beating to Your rhythm, wanting to do nothing else other than be in sync with You?  Or are we so caught up in our own agenda that we don’t even hear You when You speak?

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You are, and all that You promise.  You desire for us to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and not by our flesh.  When we walk by the Spirit, we will see Your fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will rise above our circumstances, because we will be living by Your supernatural abilities.  When we walk by our own flesh, far from You – honoring You with our lips, but not with our hearts – we miss out on this victorious life.  Father, may You call us all into a deeper relationship with You – draw us closer, and help us to claim Your promises for our lives today.

Seeking the Healer

S (Scripture) – Mark 6:53-56 “When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.  When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was.  Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.”

O (Observation) – Lord, I can only imagine what the scene must have been like – people born deaf, blind, mentally handicapped, without limbs, with Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, those that developed cancer, paralysis, dementia, heart conditions, psych issues, ALS, the list goes on and on about the possible physical and emotional illnesses that humans can struggle with in this life.  All of these people were desperately trying to just get near enough to You in order to touch the fringe of Your cloak so that they might be healed of their afflictions.  Trying to imagine living life without the weight of their condition moved them forward to implore You for healing.  These people were absolutely everywhere – in the market places, sprawled out on their mats, waiting in line.  Nothing was going to hold them back from getting close to You.

A (Application) – Interestingly, every single human being is born with a deadly and debilitating condition called sin – it is the desire and propensity to want to control our own lives and make our own decisions while leaving God out of the equation.  The resulting choices we make, apart from Him, are earthly, carnal, temporal, self-serving, and influenced by evil.  Yet the vast majority of the world does not see that there is anything wrong with them, apart from God.  We may not have a devastating physical condition that we struggle with each day, but if we have yet to proclaim Jesus as Lord of our lives and have yet to allow the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to heal our brokenness and restore us, we are living a life worse than one marked by a physical illness.  If we only knew the true healing and restoration that He alone offers, every single person would be desperately clamoring to get close enough to Him in order to experience that.  The problem is, we do not see ourselves as plagued by the cancer otherwise known as sin.  Until we see our need for healing, we will never seek the Healer.

P (Prayer) – Oh Mighty God, no one is too far from You – You can take the most broken of hearts and restore them.  You can take the most sinful of humans, forgive them, and clean them:

1 John 1:5-10 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Lord, may we recognize our need for You, and allow You to search our hearts, our minds, our souls, and show us anything that is not pleasing to You, that we might continue to grow and mature as Your sons and daughters in Christ.

When Our God Speaks, It Is So

S (Scripture) – Mark 5:8,34,41 “For He had been saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’…And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction’…Taking the child by the hand, He said to he, ‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).”

O (Observation) – In this chapter of Mark, we have three different instances where Jesus encountered a situation that required Him to speak life into it.  The demon possessed man that made his home among the tombs and was possessed by “Legion,” which was a combination of many unclean spirits – Jesus spoke and told them to come out of him, and they did.  A woman that had been hemorrhaging her entire life and unsuccessfully had tried every human way to heal herself without success – Jesus spoke and told her that her faith had made her well, and to go in peace and be healed of her affliction, and she did.  Lastly, a little twelve year-old girl had just died, with her mourners wailing loudly nearby.  Jesus spoke to her and told her “Talitha kum!” which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”  And she did.

A (Application) – The overarching theme I see besides the fact that our Lord is miraculous and is able to cast out demons and heal the sick is that when our God speaks, it is so.  Just as in Genesis when the creation account is shared, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light, etc.  When God declares something, it is so.  We can find great comfort and hope in knowing that our God is able to do what He says He is able to do, and He will do what He has promised us.  Has God given you a word at some point in your life that has not yet been fulfilled?  Take heart, our God is faithful.

P (Prayer) – Precious Jesus, You are overwhelmingly able to do whatever You declare You will do.  May we find great comfort in knowing that Your word is powerful and able to do what our earthly minds cannot even fathom.  May we meditate on Your word and hide it in our hearts so that when the opportunity arises we may be able to speak life into our circumstances and watch what You are able to do.

Trust the Lord for the Growth

S (Scripture) – Mark 4:26-29 “And He was saying, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows – how, he himself does not know.  The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.  But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.'”

O (Observation) – Lord, You just finished explaining the Parable of the Sower before this verse, so we know that the seed being sown is Your word.  Just as we cast seeds on the earth and have absolutely no idea exactly what is happening or how, when we cast out Your word into the hearts of others, we have no idea what the condition of the soil is, or whether or not that word will develop in their hearts.  Some hearts are prepared to hear Your word, and it will be received with joy.  Others may not be ready at that time for the Word to grow, but the seed was still sown.

You, Lord, are ultimately the only One that is able to make the seed grow.  Your word is alive, and able to transform the hearts of men and women.  Everything needed to become an oak tree is within a tiny acorn – as the acorn is planted, watered, and receives the nutrients and sunshine necessary to grow, it does.  And when it grows, it first becomes a sprout, and then a seedling, and then a baby tree…within a few short years, that oak tree is absolutely enormous, beautiful, and producing other acorns.  The farmer of the tree had nothing to do with it other than sowing the seed, and perhaps providing some assistance with the right conditions for it to grow.

A (Application) – We are to sow Your seed, and trust You for the growth within each person.  We do not know how You are working in another person’s life – we cannot speed up the process of farming, and we cannot speed up the process of moving someone closer to You.  You are the One that draws someone closer to You.  It is our responsibility to share Your life-giving Word when given the opportunity, and trust You for everything else.

P (Prayer) – Father in Heaven, You are so faithful.  You are constantly at work in our lives and the lives of others, whether or not we see anything happening.  Your word is able to be planted in someone’s life, and You will make it grow at the proper time.  May we be faithful to share Your word with whomever You ask us to at the proper time, for we do not know what You will do with it, or when.  “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).”

Do We Really Know You?

S (Scripture) – Mark 3:1-6 “He entered again into the synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.  They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.  He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Get up and come forward!’  And He said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’  But they kept silent.  After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”

O (Observation) – Jesus entered into the place of worship and found a man who had a withered hand – someone who was broken and hurting, looking for answers.  He also found a group of Pharisees that were dressed appropriately in holy garments, no doubt going through the motions of the service effortlessly as they had done all of their lives.  Instead of the religious leaders having compassion on the man with the withered hand, they sat back and, without a word, waited for Jesus to do a form of work on the Sabbath so that they might have something to bring against Him.

The word says that Jesus felt anger while looking around at them, and was grieved at their hardness of heart.  It’s interesting that there are two distinct emotions mentioned here – first, anger which is not the kind of human superficial anger that we experience while in a traffic jam – this is righteous indignation, which is an intense dissatisfaction with the state of affairs because whatever is going on is morally and fundamentally wrong.  These religious leaders should clearly have not been seeking to destroy anyone for healing someone on the day of rest.  The grief Jesus experienced was a form of hurting due to their stubborn behavior and refusal to acknowledge the truth despite the having the Son of God in the flesh before their very eyes.  Imagine watching Your created beings (children) who claim to know You, but are so far away…they are all dressed up for the occasion of being in service to You, but are absolutely hollow on the inside, devoid of any real relationship with You.

A (Application) – Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 3:5 that a day is coming when we will have men and women who will “have a form of godliness, but denying it’s power.”  It’s easy to label ourselves as a Christian, go to church, sing the songs, and even pray every now and then.  Let us not live our lives devoid of the real power that comes from the Name of Jesus.  Let us not have a form of godliness, yet neglect the transforming nature of what it means to be a Christ-follower.  May we not be the people that Jesus looks upon with anger and grief because we claim to know Him as our personal Lord and Savior, yet live our lives in such a way that is completely inconsistent with this proclamation.  By the grace of God, we have nothing to fear – nothing that we say or do can earn a right standing with Him.  However, the result of such amazing grace is a thankful heart, a transformed life (by the Holy Spirit’s power), and victorious living.  If we are not these things, we should examine our hearts and settle once and for all who is on the throne of our lives – us, or Jesus?

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, Your love is amazing.  You are so full of grace, mercy, love, and truth that it overwhelms my soul.  I thank You that You continue to draw me closer to You each and every day, and that in this constant world of chaos and uncertainty, You are a God of order and are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  May we settle in our hearts once and for all that You are Lord, and may we spend the rest of our lives serving You and Your kingdom.

I Thirst for You

Journal entry from August 27th, 2010:

S (Scripture) – Psalm 143:6,8,10 “I lift my hands to You in prayer.  I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain…Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You.  Show me where to walk, for I give myself to YouTeach me to do Your will, for You are my God.”

O (Observation) – David’s prayer to the Lord should be a model for all prayers!  He lifted his hands in humility and reverence, admitted his need for wisdom, trusted Him, and asked for guidance.  He wanted to do God’s will, not have God bless what he wanted to do.

A (Application) – I want to memorize these verses and say them everyday when I wake up.  We must recognize daily that the Lord is on His throne and we are mere vessels to accomplish His purposes.  God sees the whole story, from beginning to end, and is the only One we should be trusting for guidance.

P (Prayer) – Lord, You are the only One that satisfies.  Thank You.