Facing Self-will



John 6:38

  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
You and I are human. Being human means we make mistakes. One of the mistakes common to us all is the tendency to do whatever we want.

We tell others, “I will compete in that race.” It doesn’t matter if something important comes up like an invitation to be Best Man or Maid of Honor in a wedding. We turn down all invitations in order to compete. We send a gift, wish them well, and continue training for our own big day.

Some of us don’t pray about our decisions. Some make a decision and then ask God to make it happen. We throw out emergency prayers all the time, for example: we need a parking space on a rainy day or we need that policeman to not pull us over for speeding.

What would happen if we allowed God into our decision-making process? Can we be patient enough to wait and find out what God’s will is before we act?

All of us could use a little self-discipline now and then.

We could take a moment and examine our self-will the way Jesus did at the Mount of Olives as shown in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

“Not my will” is a prayer that requires us to stop and think about what we’re doing. If we’re powering through our day like a bulldozer, we may miss the blessings God planted along our path.

We aren’t going to be perfect, but we can make changes to our lifestyle to include God’s ideas before we make our plans. These changes may force us to slow down and listen rather than speed up and accomplish. Listening to God’s wisdom helps our preparation and prevents our mistakes.

Are you ready to face self-will with me? Jesus had to do it too. We are not alone.

Facing God



Exodus 19:16-17

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

I think there are a lot of people who have a reverential fear of God. Then there are those who are afraid of God and those who show no respect for God. Those who show no respect for God should be afraid. Very afraid. But those who are afraid of God simply don’t know him well enough to accept that he wants a relationship with us.

When Moses led his people to the mountain where God wanted to meet with them, they were so afraid they trembled. Rightly so. If they were disrespectful enough to be clowning around at the mountain, they might go too far and die.

God said to set the mountain apart as holy. The people had to take God seriously to appreciate the kind of event that was about to take place. When God gave Moses the ten commandments, the people saw smoke and lightning. They heard a trumpet and loud thunder. It was a scene none of them had ever experienced. Of course they stayed away from the mountain. I would’ve been apprehensive too.

Moses had a relationship with God. They had conversations. So obviously, Moses had an appropriate and reverential fear of God. If you read through chapter nineteen of Exodus, you can imagine yourself in place of Moses and listen to God’s words as if you were there, kneeling in the dust. I love seeing myself in that place, listening to God telling me that he carried me on eagles’ wings and brought me to himself. I hear him say that I am a treasure. Can you hear it?

Today, you can face God and accept his invitation to begin a relationship or grow in your relationship with him. When others are shaking in their boots, you and I can climb the mountain of fear and face God. You and I can get closer to him.

What happens when you meet with God? Do you tremble or do you listen?

Facing Disease



Luke 17:15-16

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.

I understand from Bible stories that Jews and Samaritans did not get along very well. Yet two popular stories speak well of Samaritans. The Good Samaritan was someone who took care of a wounded person on the side of the road – someone who probably wouldn’t have taken care of him if their roles were reversed. Another Samaritan was one of ten men with leprosy.

Luke 17:11-19 tells the story of the one out of ten who thanked God for healing him. The oft-asked question is: why didn’t the other nine throw themselves at the feet of Jesus and thank him?

I couldn’t begin to put myself in their position since I’ve never been faced with that kind of torturous, flesh-eating disease. It would be a very scary situation. It’s a rot-while-you-wait kind of slow death. I would imagine living in a colony of lepers and watching everyone around you go through the same pain you’re feeling could destroy anyone’s positive outlook.

When these ten men saw Jesus, they yelled and tried to get his attention. They wanted relief, and Jesus had a reputation for giving people their lives back. When Jesus yelled back for them to go to the priest, he wasn’t putting them off. They were supposed to let the priest officially pronounce them clean and healed.

I don’t know what the other nine were thinking as they went on their way. However, I know that when your life is given back to you because of a miraculous healing, God did it. God should be thanked.

If something good happens to you that turns your life upside down, I wonder if you automatically think, “Wow, this is my lucky day.” Or do you thank God?

I’m pretty sure Jesus appreciated the joyful praises that came from the Samaritan. You and I don’t have to wait for God to perform another miracle. We can fill the air with joyful praises to God for what he’s already done. Why wait for God to answer another prayer when he’s already done so much for us? We don’t have to wait. We can praise God right now.

Facing Demons



Mark 5:18-19

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

The story in Mark 5:1-20 where Jesus faced a demon-possessed man and restored him seems like a story that would strike fear in the hearts of the hearers – until they heard the happy ending. Of course, the local people of the day were unhappy to have lost their pigs. I think they had to look at the bright side of the situation and remember that they were no longer plagued with fear when traveling through that area. Since Jesus let demons run the pigs off the cliff, the pigs’ owners were sad at the loss of money, but money isn’t everything. It was as true then as it is today.

When I read some of the Bible stories, I think about what it would’ve been like to experience that event as one of the disciples of Jesus. If I had been standing there with the disciples, my knees might have been knocking.

Jesus was always facing challenges to his authority. People gave him trouble wherever he went. But this man with the legion of demons ran to Jesus and fell to his knees. The demons asked Jesus not to torture them and not to send them out of the area. The demons were scared.

We need to remember who Jesus is. The demons hadn’t forgotten, and neither should we. Jesus has control over what we think are uncontrollable situations. When we face uncertainty, Jesus is certain. When our hearts are racing, Jesus is calm. If we can remember who Jesus is and that he is with us, then we’ll find that Jesus will take the scary out of our situation.

I love stories that have happy endings, even scary stories. The happy ending in this one is when the man went home to his family and told them how Jesus gave him back his life.