IF…

bible-studyAnd a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees
before Him, and saying, “
If You are willing
, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,
and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Immediately the leprosy
left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42

Today, I want to consider two different interpretations of the phrase “If You are willing” found in the verses of scripture I have quoted from the gospel of Mark.

I usually have interpreted this phrase to reveal a lack of faith by the leper. He does believe because he seeks Jesus for healing and he shows a reverence for Jesus by coming humbly to Him. I have perceived the leper as possibly being a relatively new believer who was not extremely confident in his faith. Jesus is touched by the honesty of the leper and reaches out to touch him. While the leper was healed by the touch of Jesus, I also believe he developed a deeper relationship with Jesus because of this personal encounter. Jesus assured the leper that He was willing and able to do what the leper asked. Previously, I have pictured the leper as one who was wanting to know more about who Jesus was and what He could do. This man had faith, yet he lacked faith.

Recently while reading these verses, I thought about the possibility of the leper expressing this phrase for a different reason. I wondered if the words, “If You are willing,” revealed a more profound faith and understanding of who Jesus was. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Then in John 8:28 Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own.” I have to wonder if this leper had a greater understanding of who Jesus was than I had originally accredited to him. He may have been respecting the fact that Jesus was only able to do what was in agreement with His Heavenly Father.

Regarding both interpretations, there are three points I want to highlight.

First of all, I want to note that although leprosy is a physical disease, it is also spiritually symbolic of sin. I may not have the disease of leprosy in my body but I do admit that sinfulness can be found within me. So, I ask the question, Do I sincerely believe that Jesus can forgive my sins? I John 1:9 assures me, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

My next focal point is related to the fact that the leper came to Jesus in person and asked to be healed. To put it into other terms, I can say that he prayed. Do I take time to pray and specifically ask the Lord for what I desire? Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” However, in addition, I need to remember to surrender to God’s will when interceding in prayer. I must follow the example Jesus gave to His disciples as to how to pray. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus told His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Pastor Bob Reeves of Calvary Assembly of God has said that we need to recognize both the power of God to do something and His right to do something. We do not dictate our terms when praying. We follow Jesus, not ask Him to follow us.

Finally, I must examine my level of faith. Does the phrase “If You are willing” reflect a lack of in my faith that would benefit from being deepened? I may need to cry out to Jesus the words of Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Or, am I exhibiting a faith in God that surrenders to the will of God when I verbalize the words, “If You are willing”? Maybe I should heed the words of Hebrews 10:36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” The truth I must remember from our scripture for today is found in Mark 1:41 when Jesus says, “I am willing.” Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Jesus will meet me and touch me no matter what level of faith I am experiencing as long as I call out to Him.

My Reader, how deep is your faith today? How do you interpret the leper’s words? You can receive a touch from Jesus no matter which interpretation is currently most appropriate for you as long as you cry out to Him.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Left click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

The Resurrected King

resurrectionSince we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday, it is not surprising that I am still singing the Elevation Worship lyrics of the current Christian song Resurrecting The specific phrase that I am pondering declares, “The resurrected king is resurrecting me.” Please join me in pondering this phrase and searching the scriptures for a more complete comprehension.

The rresurrected King…”

He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:6-7

You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
Acts 3:15

Resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasis that is a compound word composed of ana meaning again and histemi meaning to stand. Jesus was standing – He was not on the cross – He was not in the grave. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. He was brought back to life.

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father
Revelation 1:5-6

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16

Resurrected King” is an appropriate description of Jesus! He is King over all kings, and we are to be part of His kingdom. In the final book of the Bible, He is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.

“… is resurrecting me”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again.”
John 3:3

To intimately know Jesus, the Resurrected King, we must be born again. Being born again is a form of resurrection for us because this means that our spirit is born again, brought back to life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

The new life we are given in Christ is a resurrected life. To be resurrected is to be used again, but in a new way.

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

To fully comprehend the necessary power for Jesus to resurrect us, we may have to share in some form of suffering. It is often through suffering that we come to more intimately know Christ.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross before being resurrected. We are each required to take up our cross which means for us to die to our selfish ways before resurrection life is possible for us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

The renewing of our minds is part of the resurrection life the Resurrected King is offering to us. We have a new mind. We have the mind of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Because of the resurrection power of Christ that now lives in us, we can fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Although I have only quoted two verses from Romans 6, the first 11 verses of this chapter proclaims the resurrection life that our Resurrected King is offering to us. When we confess our sins of selfishness, anger, pride etc., we die to them and then we are resurrected to selflessness, love, humility etc. We can now live the resurrection life that Jesus is offering to us.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Hebrews 13:20-21

I cannot think of a better verse to fulfill this complete phrase from the song Resurrecting! Just a few days ago we proclaimed, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” Now I am also praising the Lord and saying, “He is resurrecting me!” and “He is resurrecting me indeed!” My Reader, are you ready to make these proclamations?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

PS: I am also including the Elevation Worship lyrics of Resurrection as there is a wonderful message in the complete song.

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
[x3]

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

“SOZO” – It’s Greek to Me!

sozo” – Is this a word that describes the clown named Bozo?
sozo” – It sounds Greek to me!

Although I have to admit that when I hear the word “sozo” I first think of Bozo the clown, my second comment is more accurate. “Sozo” is a Greek word used in scripture that can be translated ‘being made well.” The meaning of the word relates to wholeness in body, soul and spirit. A complete package is offered.

dscn2314Genesis 1:26 begins with God saying “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” Notice that God uses the pronoun “us” when describing Himself. Our God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since He is three in one, it is not surprising that when mankind was created, he was given a body, soul and spirit. The manifestation of three is found in both cases. In the image above, we see three balls within a glass dish. The dish represents our complete makeup containing a red ball for our body, a blue ball for our soul, and a yellow ball for our spirit.

dscn2315When Adam and Eve sinned, our perfection was lost. In mankind’s fallen state, our spirit has died. We have lost our ability to commune with God one on One as originally designed by God. This is evident in Genesis 3:23 when God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. An empty spot is left within our original design of creation. Body and soul remain.

dscn2316Our soul – composed of our mind, will and emotions – tries to compensate for the now vacant place once occupied by our spirit nature. The image above shows what happens to the equality of space originally intended for body, soul and spirit. Without a spirit and with an enlarged soul, the body is also affected regarding how well it fulfills its function.

dscn2314In Revelation 21:5, God says, “I am making everything new!” “All things” includes mankind. Throughout scripture, God reveals how He offers newness of life to each part of our nature. First, our spirit must be born again. Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus about being born again. John 3:3-7 states, “Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Once our spirit is born again, our soul needs to be restored. David says in Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul.” Restoration takes something back to its original state. (For example, antique furniture can be restored.) Relating restoration to our soul, the soul must return to its original size and function. When our spirit nature is born again, our soul is not happy about having to give up the extra space it gained regarding its influence upon how we live our lives. There is a constant battle going on between soul and spirit. Finally, we think about the condition of our physical body. Although the space of our body was not affected when our spirit died, we are most aware of the effects of this change upon our lives. Our body requires healing. I Peter 2:24 reveals to us how Jesus provides our healing, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” We see a mysterious and miraculous interplay of life as we look at how we have three interwoven parts affecting each other. I Thessalonians 5:23 supports this concept, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

My Reader, I pray this post gives you some insight regarding God’s plan for us at creation when He designed us in His image with body, soul and spirit. However, I have also written this post as background information for my topic next week of “Well Women.” Please check in again next Wednesday as we apply the meaning of “sozo” to two women in the Bible.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

“Knowledge Comes but Wisdom Lingers”

 

booksKNOWLEDGE

bibleWISDOM

7d01-tmpCLASS OF 1964

 “Knowledge Comes but Wisdom Lingers”
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Knowledge Comes but Wisdom Lingers” was the class motto for our high school graduating class. Since my husband and I recently attended a milestone class reunion, I have been reflecting upon these words. Fifty years ago, Gary and I spent time with these classmates gaining book knowledge five days a week. Now in May 2014, we spent time with these same people sharing wisdom gained through life. Tests were used for grades when we were acquiring knowledge in high school but now testings have given us opportunities for growth while attaining wisdom in life.

For each of us, our circle of family and friends had expanded over the years but we still had room for our friendships of OHS. Some things change while other things never change. We had all put aside the textbooks we used to gain knowledge but I saw evidence of wisdom, including Biblical wisdom, fulfilled in our lives.

And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

During our reunion, we talked of the joys of our journeys as well as some of the rough roads along the paths of life. While the feelings of worth and warmth within the hearts of each classmate dominated, we also shared some of the aches and breaks of our hearts. However, it was evident that God was using each experience of each of us for His good. Each classmate was able to share his or her triumphs and/or hardships and not be rejected by former friends. Fifty years ago competition and popularity were important while now our priority was compassion and concern.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

This scripture was proven true as we as classmates of OHS 1964 told of our careers, families and travels. God’s plans and purposes have been and still are being attained. Even as we enter the retirement phase of our lives, there is a desire for each of us to find a common denominator between our intentions and God’s goals. Every person has his or her unique talents and interests to use in a way honoring to God. After fifty years, we still have a future filled with hope. Our conversations looked forward as well as backward.

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
Job 12:12-13

Yes, after 50 years, my classmates and I have to admit that we are nearing the group of people known as the aged. We may have some wisdom that is lingering in our minds along with the knowledge we gained in our years as students, but true wisdom for all of us comes only from God. As students, we attended public school together gaining knowledge. Some were together in the same classes from kindergarten through high school. After graduation, we scattered as everyone went his or her own direction. Unique experiences have allowed each of us to grow and gain personal wisdom.

Although there were only 38 in our graduating class, 25 of us traveled the roads of many miles of many states to be reunited for two evenings. We shared our memories of 50 years ago but we also created new memories in less than 50 hours. We did not talk about our book knowledge but we did verbalize some words of wisdom. I guess our class motto still has some truth. Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, especially when that wisdom comes from the Lord!

 Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

For all my Readers: Even though you may not have been a member of this particular high school class, take time to apply the motto of “Knowledge Comes but Wisdom Lingers” to your own life. Most likely these words of Alfred Lord Tennyson will relay some wisdom from the Lord for you personally.