Today’s reading is Acts 5: 12-16 One of the common things that we see happen throughout Scripture is healing. We see people healed. We see it in the Old Testament. We see it in the Gospels. We see it throughout the … Continue reading
This week’s reflections are written by Rev. Brian Johnston, one of our Associate Pastors here at St. Matthew’s Rooted 2019 – Week Fifteen Day One Today’s reading is Acts 3: 1-10 Today we read a short passage about Peter and John … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Luke 8: 40-56 Today we see two people healed, Jarius’ daughter and the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. I think this text to me shows the courage to believe when life was hard. Jarius … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Luke 8: 26-39 The reading from today is one of my favorite stories in all the Bible. We see here that Jesus sails across the Sea of Galilee and when He gets there, He meets a man, … Continue reading
One of the defining statements of Christianity is this – Jesus Christ is Lord. You can make an argument that was the first “creed” of the Christian church, the belief that we hold to that really is essential. Jesus Christ … Continue reading
One of the most powerful words in the Bible that speaks to our relationship with God is healing. I had a professor in seminary that used to always say that the Greek word for salvation within the scripture could also … Continue reading
In life, we have choices to make with our attitude. Will we be thankful or will we see only the problems and issues that surround us? What will we choose to do? To be thankful is not to pretend like … Continue reading
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Now we are entering into the time of Advent, getting ready for Christmas. During this season, may our eyes, our ears, our hearts, all that we are be looking for the grace of Christ in each moment!
Today we look at Mark 10:46-52:
46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Today we see Jesus heal Bartimaeus, we see Jesus restore his sight. And when we read this passage, there are a couple of things that stand out to me. First, notice what the man calls Jesus. Son of David. Jesus is called Son of God a lot in the Bible. He calls Himself Son of Man a lot as well. But this is a unique title that is telling.
Bartimaeus, in calling Jesus Son of David, understand that He is the one that is to come from the line of David. The Messiah is to be a descendant of David. Bartimaeus is speaking the truth, Jesus is the one that is to come from David’s line. But here’s the thing. The Messiah, the Son of David, that they were looking for was a political king that would drive out the Romans and establish that earthly kingdom like David.
So, yes, Bartimaeus was right in knowing who Jesus was. But he was wrong in understanding what Jesus was here to do. He made assumptions about who Jesus was. And he missed what Jesus was wanting to do.
Let’s not make the same mistake.
Second, notice that once again Jesus heals someone’s sight. Someone is able to see because of what Jesus has done.
One thing to always remember in the Gospels when Jesus heals the blind and restores sight, He isn’t just restoring physical sight. He’s restoring the ability to see spiritually. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 it says:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Without Christ, we may be able to “see” but we can’t see. The sight that Jesus provides is more than physical. It’s spiritual. Jesus grace (we in the United Methodist tradition call this grace prevenient) restores our ability to see. To know. To understand. Jesus’ grace, given to all, allows us to choose, to follow, or to reject. To not follow. Not all that Jesus healed followed Him.
But when He restores our sight through His grace, we can see. We can choose. We can follow. We can see.
Today, may we allow His grace into our lives, may we see. And may we follow Him, wherever He calls!
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 11:1-11.
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Today we take a look at Mark 9:14-29, where Jesus heals a young boy:
The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit
14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19 He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26 After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. 28 When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
Today we see Jesus heal another child that is possessed by an evil spirit, something we see quite a lot of, especially in Mark. There are a couple of words of reminder about evil or demonic spirits I want to give when we read texts like this. First, remember, scripture is clear, they are out there, they do exist. But, let us not become overly consumed or worried about them. That is not helpful. CS Lewis said this in his book The Screwtape Letters:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
Two things that I think are of great interest in this text are the notion of faith and prayer. Notice Jesus’ seeming frustration with the lack of faith displayed by everyone involved in this. No one is able to heal the boy, it seems as though it is at an end. The father says to Jesus, if you can heal, and Jesus says all things are possible for those that believe.
Then the father has one of my favorite statements in all of scripture. Lord I believe, help my unbelief. How often have we all felt like that? How often have we said I know you can do it Lord, but help me believe.
Belief and faith are not an on/off switch. When we flip it, doesn’t always stay there. We can believe, but still struggle with doubt and fear and worry. We can have great faith, but still have areas of our life that struggle to trust in. We can be this father. Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.
Today, may your faith be stronger than your doubts. Hold fast to faith. Hold on. Jesus can do it. Believe. Trust. Hope. Don’t doubt, only belief. Give your doubts, your worries, your fears, give them to Jesus. He can hold them, He can help them.
And the second thing that stands out to me is the conversation the disciples have with Jesus following. They want to know why they couldn’t heal the boy, and Jesus says some things can only be done with great prayer. Prayer is always the first things that we should do as Christians. Not the last.
Prayer must always be our frist resort, not our last. Prayer must be the frist thing that we turn to, not the last. We have to start all things, all things with prayer. Jesus says the only way that you can bring forth healing in this situation is through prayer.
Do we pray first? We have to. We must. It’s the only way that we’ll have the power to be faithful.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 9:30-37.
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This past Sunday we had our time of renewal and commitment here at St. Matthew’s. We reaffirmed our Baptism and made our ministry and financial commitments. And y’all, it may have been the most amazing response I’ve ever seen. I wanted to give you a brief update, and then let you know this. We need you!
Sunday, we had 137 financial commitment cards returned, an increase of 37% from our initial commitment Sunday last year. Our initial pledged support was up nearly 50% from last year and of those cards that were returned 70% of those that that renewed their commitment increased that commitment. And over the past year we have 93 new individuals or families that have given to our church.
We also had 64 cards returned making ministry commitments. New commitments were made to serve in youth, children, evangelism, so many different ministries here at our church. It was truly amazing to see and experience what God did in worship this past Sunday!
One of the questions that someone asked me is what is my vision for our church? I said Sunday that’s kind of hard right now; we are still hanging up pictures at our home; we are still figuring it all out. But I will tell you this, my vision is not a vision that is programmatic. My vision is not about necessarily what we do. It’s about who we are. My vision is a word I couldn’t get out my head this past week.
We are called as a church to be about healing. There are children in our community that are terrified because their mom and dad won’t stop fighting. And they need healing.
There are youth that are giving into peer pressure, doing anything that they can do to feel loved. And they need healing.
There are older adults that are looking for a reason to just go on living. And they need healing.
There are families that are one light breeze away from falling apart. And they need healing.
There are people that are spending money they don’t have to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like, all for a sense of worth. And they need healing.
The healing we all need, the cure of our souls is Jesus. He is the source of healing in our church, our community, our world. We all need His healing grace. And we are called to agents of that healing to a world and community in need of healing. The world and our community are not in need of programs or religion but in need of the healing of Jesus Christ. That’s our call.
And we need you. We really do. To do this, to be this agent of healing, we need everyone connected, plugged in, giving, serving, being faithful. What a great response we had this past week. But we need everyone.
Imagine what we can do. Imagine what can happen. Imagine the difference it can make. Imagine.
And we can do it. We can. Together. As one. Unified. Living out His healing grace.
There is still time to turn in your commitment cards if you haven’t. There will be more available at the church.
We need you. The kingdom needs you. And we can do it. Together, as one we can do it.
May God be glorified in all that happens in this place!