Friday, October 31, 2014

“Christianity is not built on the foundation of philosophy or a code of ethics.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 259). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

That is not its foundation.  It is built on the Resurrection.

As Mark puts it, “The footer of our faith is one fundamental fact— the empty tomb. After cheating death by calling Lazarus out of his tomb, Jesus walked out of His own tomb under His own power! That’s the ultimate apologetic— there is no argument against it. If the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity ranks as history’s cruelest hoax. We’re not just wasting our lives worshiping Him. We’re living a lie. But if Jesus walked out of the tomb two thousand years ago, all bets are off. Or maybe I should say, all bets are on Jesus.”

But so many want to believe in Jesus as a very good teacher, a very good man who made a difference.  As Mark says, “Most people have no hesitation acknowledging that Jesus was compassionate and wise, a great teacher or a powerful prophet. But that isn’t who He claimed to be. He claimed to be the resurrection and the life. And that’s where many people get stuck. But we’re only left with two options: either Jesus was who He claimed to be or He wasn’t. There is no middle ground.”

There is a very important question that will determine where you will live when this life is over.  And as Mark puts it, “It will also make the impossible possible!”  As Bono of U2 fame said in a Billboard magazine interview, “Christ was who He said he was— the Messiah— or a complete nutcase.”

So who is He to you?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

“Your tears are precious to God.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 251). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Mark continues, “Whether they are tears of joy, tears of sorrow, or tears of pain— not one teardrop is lost on God.” 

Maybe you need that thought today.  Maybe you are going through a very rough spell and it is about to get you down and you would like to break down and cry and it would be great to do it with a friend.  Or you maybe are going through an exciting time and you just feel like crying with joy and it would be great to do it with a friend.  Maybe your pain is so great and you just can’t handle it because it is so unbearable and you just feel like crying and it would be great to have a friend close to you.  Jesus is right next to you and He really cares about you and your tears are precious to Him.

We are looking here in this section of Mark’s book at the death of His very good friend, Lazarus and the grieving of Lazarus’ two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Mark says, “If you’ve endured the type of loss Mary and Martha experienced, you know that sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on. I’m grateful for those friends who seem to show up when everybody else disappears. Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18: 24) and His broad shoulders can bear any burden. But sometimes you need more than a listening ear, more than a shoulder to cry on. You need a friend who can do something about your situation. The good news is: Jesus is both. Jesus doesn’t just get sad. The Son of God gets mad. Death was never part of God’s original plan. It was the fallout from the fall. Jesus is good and angry because death has stolen His friend. So the Grave Robber steals him back!”

And that is so important to also see.  In these situations that are situations where we really could use some help it is so good to know that we have a friend who can really make a difference.  And Jesus cares and He can truly make a difference.

What is it you are going through?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

“Few things kill pride faster than failure!”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 249). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

How do you feel after you’ve failed?  You feel miserable but what you do after failure is the key to having a dream realized. 

As Mark says, “Few things kill pride faster than failure! And that’s the point. God doesn’t want to kill the dream He’s given you, but He does want to crucify anything that would keep Him from getting all of the glory when you ultimately succeed.” 

He also says, “When God takes something away from us, it doesn’t always mean that He takes it away forever. In fact, God often takes things away with the express purpose of giving them back. And when He does, we’re able to see the miracle for what it is. If you’ve lost love and found it again, you know whereof I speak. The same is true of health and wealth. It’s much more difficult to take the blessing for granted.”

As 1 Peter 5-6 (NCV) says, “God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.   Be humble under God’s powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes.” 

I was just thinking of a time that I was feeling like a total failure.  I had been engaged and I had blown it.  And it really hurt.  I wasn’t sure if I ever was going to have another chance. 

When I was going through such pain there was another verse in 1 Peter 5 that I said over and over and it brought so much comfort to me.  Verse 7 (KJV) says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  And I will celebrate next week the realization of the fact that He cares for me with my 40th anniversary to being with my wife, Margaret.  The best gift that He has given me a part from Himself.

He wants to give us so much more than we could ever dream of because He cares about us but He also wants to have the credit.  Is it because He needs it?  No.  It’s because we need to give it.

So what are you trying to do on your own?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Miracles happen once we’re good and ready, and not a moment sooner.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 247). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)


Now we may think we’re ready before God thinks we’re ready and that is where our trust in Him and His timing comes in. 

Mark says, “Sometimes it’s because God in His grace is allowing us to mature so we’ll be able to steward it. Sometimes He waits so we don’t miss the point. And sometimes God waits to punctuate His power.”  He has a plan, and He has a purpose and that is where our trust comes in. 

He also says, “Most miracles take longer than we want, but the longer we wait, the more we appreciate them.”

God had a plan for Jesus’ life when He sent His Son to earth and it didn’t just happen.  What if Jesus in His confining human body had stopped somewhere in the 30 plus years in that body and said “OK I’m done and I’m ready to come back home.  You are God and you could speed all this up.  But He didn’t because He knew His Father had a plan and a purpose and He knew He could be trusted with His timing.  And I’m so glad Jesus didn’t give up and leave this earth too soon.  I’m glad He waited for God’s timing.     

God can be trusted even in your life.  Don’t quit praying.  Don’t give up. But remember, “Miracles happen once we’re good and ready, and not a moment sooner.”

So what miracle are you waiting for?

Monday, October 27, 2014

“Faith inserts a comma, even at the end of a death sentence.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 244). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We are looking here at the story in the New Testament where Jesus heard that a good friend of his was about to die but Jesus waited for four days to go see him but he dies before he gets there.  When he finally gets there the man’s two sisters ask Jesus why He hadn’t come earlier?  One of them, Martha said in John 11:22-23, “Lord . . . if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  The word, but showed that she held out some hope even a little bit in this situation.

What about you?  Maybe you are at the end of something in your life, a sickness, a relationship, a job.  Remember, “Faith inserts a comma, even at the end of a death sentence.”

Mark says, “Faith often looks like it’s out of touch with reality, but that’s because it’s in touch with a reality that is more real than anything you can see or hear or taste or touch or smell with your five senses. Faith is our sixth sense. And if you’re truly in touch with God, sometimes it’ll appear as if you are out of touch with reality.”  But faith inserts a comma, even at the end of a death sentence.

Mark continues, “I love the little phrase embedded in this statement of faith: even now. It’s one of my favorite phrases in all of Scripture. Even when it seems like God is four days late, it’s too soon to give up. Even when it seems like your dream is dead and buried, don’t put a period there.”

By the way, Jesus raised their brother, Lazarus from the dead.  You see, He is The Grave Robber.

Do you need Him today?

Friday, October 24, 2014

“But it’s not over until God says it’s over!”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible. (p234). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)


We look at life and something happens and we think that life as we know it is over.  It could be a lost job, a divorce, a sickness, a decision, a sin, a death and we think it’s over.  In this story that Mark is looking at in this section, the story of Jesus friend, Lazarus’ death “that’s precisely how Mary and Martha felt. Their brother was gone for good. And their lives as they knew them were over.” But Jesus finally comes and He brings Lazarus out of that tomb alive.  He gave Him back his life. Jesus was truly The Grave Robber. 

Now Mark says, “This miracle doesn’t just foreshadow Jesus’ own resurrection. It foreshadows yours! It’s not just something Jesus did for Lazarus. It’s a snapshot of what Jesus wants to do in your life right here, right now. When we sin, it’s like the enemy of our soul wraps us up in grave clothes. Sin buries us alive and makes a mummy out of us. We become a shadow of the person we were meant to be. And if you keep on sinning, it’ll weigh you down like a hundred pounds of grave clothes. But Jesus is calling you out of your tomb.”

Yes we mess up, yes we sin and their are consequences but your life is not over until God says it’s over.  You still have a chance.  You still have an opportunity to make something of your life.  You see, “Jesus came so that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.  Yes you may have blown it but it’s not over yet.   Today is your day to let Him have your life.

This life as we know it is not the end.  There is more to it than this but you must give yourself over to Him.  Just ask Him.  Just say yes to Him.  Just come to Him.  Just believe in Him.

Jesus came to that tomb and He called out to Lazarus to come out.  And He is calling out your name today.  As Marks says, “He’s calling you out of sin. He’s calling you out of death. He’s calling you out of your tomb.”

Are you going to answer His call today?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

“The methodology behind the miracles of Jesus isn’t the point. The point is His power.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2014-09-02) from his book, The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (p. 228). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

The miracle that Mark is dealing with here in this section is the healing of the man who was born blind.  The method that Jesus used was a gross one.  He spit on the ground and made mud, He put the mud on the man’s eyes and then sent him off to the Pool of Saloam to wash it off.  After the man found the Pool He washed the mud off and then he could see.  Our tendency would be to start having the method for healing to have mud involved but the key was obedience.  The man obeyed and was healed.

I like how Mark puts it.  He says, “I’m not entirely sure why Jesus had this blind man go and wash, but I’m guessing that he had lived a relatively helpless life. He depended upon everybody for everything! So Jesus didn’t just heal his blind eyes. He restored his dignity by rebuking helplessness. Scripture is explicit when it comes to the sequence of this miracle. It says he ‘came back seeing.’ (John 9:7 ESV) If he hadn’t taken this step of faith and gone to the Pool of Siloam, I don’t think the miracle would have happened! And that’s one secret to experiencing the miraculous: most miracles require an act of blind obedience. You cannot manufacture miracles, but you can wash in the Pool of Siloam. One step of obedience can open your eyes. One step of obedience can reverse the curse. One step of obedience can begin a new chapter in your life!” 

The key is not the method but the obedience.  I think the reason why we uplift the method is because it is easier than the obedience and it too many times lifts us up than it lifts God up.  And as Mark says, “The point is His power.”  He is the key not us.

So what is He asking you to do?