Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lion, The Cloak, And The Blind Man

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now, what do you think a blind man wants? Is Jesus asking a stupid question? No! Jesus wants to hear the confession of faith come out of the blind man’s mouth. When he said, “Lord, that I might see,” he was speaking words of faith. He was saying, “It is possible for You to heal me and to give me my sight.”
The blind man I’m referring to above is Bartimaeus. What did Jesus say to him? “Go your way; your FAITH has made you whole.” Now, I want you to pay special attention to this. In Mark 10, what was the first thing that Bartimaeus did when the Lord called for him? He threw off his cloak, which was probably his greatest worldly possession. He may have slept with it at night, and it most certainly protected him and kept him warm.
When Jesus called Bartimaeus out of the crowd, the first thing he did was throw off the beggarly cloak as he knew he was about to exit one realm and enter into a whole new one! He was going from being a beggar to being blessed . . . from being blind to having sight. He threw off the garment of bondage, which equated to the chains of his past.
There’s a lesson to be learned there. If we’re going to grab hold of everything that God has for us in 2014, then we’re probably going to have to let go of something. What do you have to let go of? Resentment? Bitterness? Anger? Fear? What is the cloak of bondage in your life? What have you become so familiar with or attached to that you’re afraid to let it go? It might be a relationship. I’m telling you: God is speaking expansion and redirection. Redirection means that there is an adjustment in the course of your life, in your business, in your ministry, in your personal life, and/or in your marriage. There’s a cloak that needs to be thrown off. As you throw off that cloak, you will receive the ability to see things more clearly.
After Bartimaeus was healed from his blindness, Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole.” What did he do in Mark 10:52? The Word says that, “He followed Him in the Way.” Jesus told him that he could go his own way. Listen, God will permit you to go your own way, or you can follow Him in the Way. Bartimaeus chose to follow Jesus.
The Bible tells us we are to put off the old man and put on Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). There are things in each of our lives that need to be put in order so that we may put on more of Christ. If we fail to remove those things, then all we’re doing is putting perfume on a stinky body, and you all know what that smells like! It smells worse when you apply perfume over an odor than if you didn’t put any perfume on it at all. Stop with the perfume!
What element of the old man needs to be put off in your life? What is it? I’m talking internally. Is it fear? Is it hurt? Is it unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, or envy? I could go on and on, but Paul does a much better job of stating the whole list. Put off the old man and put on Christ.
After beginning His earthly ministry, we see that Jesus spoke the same two simple words to individuals several times. Those two words were: Follow Me.
I believe this is the Lord’s word for the Church and for you specifically. It’s a very simple word, but it is one with powerful implications because so many are refusing to follow Christ even though they are wearing the name, “Christian.” I know it sounds judgmental, but can we really call ourselves Christians if we’re not following Christ? Can we really acknowledge Him as Lord if we’re not willing to do what He tells us to do? In fact, can we really say we love Him if we’re not willing to obey? When Jesus met Matthew the tax collector in Matthew 9:9, He spoke those two simple words to him, “Follow Me.” In fact, later in Matthew 10:38, Jesus Himself said that if you do not follow Him, you are not worthy of Him.
Here is a word from the Lord for each of us. The Lord says, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness.” Is it therefore safe to assume that he who does not follow Him will walk in darkness? Yes. To walk in darkness means to be groping around and wandering aimlessly, which brings us back to: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” They wander aimlessly; they’re looking for something, but never seem to get it because they don’t even know what it looks like.
If we follow Jesus, He will give us the fullness of life. He will bring us to the place of being and doing that for which we were created. There is no greater fulfillment than to find that place. It is all the work of grace; it is not because of our works. So don’t stress and strain in an attempt to experience His greater grace. Just simply and willfully obey. Victory comes from surrender, not fighting. The more we surrender to Him, the greater grace we will see.
Grace and peace,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Not Too Blind To See

There is a story that I love about Bartimaeus found in the book of Mark. The scene in chapter 10 begins with Bartimaeus on the side of the road. Being blind and hearing a commotion, I’m sure that Bartimaeus asked those around him what was happening. Someone told him that Jesus was passing by.
Maybe you have seen a similar place as described above. I have spent some time in Haiti. I don’t know how it is now, but back when I lived there, you could go downtown in Port-au-Prince and see certain intersections that were inundated with beggars. I saw everything to include blind people, those who were missing limbs, mothers with sick babies, and just about every type of misfortune that you could imagine! There were some that looked like they could have been dead, and there were others who wished they were. Every day a group of beggars could be found doing the exact same thing they had done the day before, which was begging for money.
I suppose it is fair for us to assume that Bartimaeus probably lived in a similar environment. He was there on the side of the road, heard the noise and commotion of a crowd going by, and then he inquired as to what was going on. Those around him replied, “Jesus of Nazareth is coming”! Suddenly, faith arose in him as he had heard about this Jesus, the Son of David. As faith increased in Bartimaeus, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” He might as well have said, “Messiah,” as that’s what Son of David means.
Everybody was trying to shush Bartimaeus to keep him quiet. They probably said things to him such as, “He doesn’t care about you; you’re just a beggar. You’ve always been blind; you will always be blind. Stop calling out to Him; He’s not going to change your situation. You’re not one of the ‘lucky’ ones.” On the contrary, what Jesus heard was the voice of faith calling out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” When He heard that faith, He stopped and signaled for Bartimaeus to be brought to Him. Suddenly, those who were trying to get him to shut up, now began to encourage him: “Get up because He’s calling for you!”
It’s amazing how our friends can be so fickle. There are a lot of people who want you to fail so they can speak ill of you. There are also those who are waiting for you to succeed so they can get attached to you. People watch us; they don’t want to be aligned with failures, so they may not step out in faith with you.
Let this be a word to somebody. They first have to see you succeed, and then they’ll say, “Yeah, I was with you. I believed in you the whole time.” They didn’t believe in you the whole time. In private they were saying, “I don’t think that he has a chance. I don’t think he can make it.” Then, by the grace of God and your willingness to follow and obey, things begin to open up and suddenly they want to partner with you.
“Man, I always knew there was something in you.” It reminds me of the old song, “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” Do you remember that one? The good news is that somebody does know ya! The Son of David, Jesus, the Christ . . . He knows exactly where you are and what He’s put in you. He didn’t call you to live a “down and out” life. He wants you to live a life that is “up and over.”

Grace and peace,