Friday, October 20, 2017

ARE YOU ON THE "A" TEAM?



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In Christ, Mark

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** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.
He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”

Matthew 10:1-8a

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.

Mark 3:13-19

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Luke 6:12-16
This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.
Prior to today’s scripture passages from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have witnessed Jesus call two pairs of fisherman brothers, Peter (also called Simon) and Andrew, and James and John, as well as a tax collector named Matthew (also called Levi).

Today, we find others added to a list which will number twelve in all. Since all three accounts are very similar, we’ll look at the verses from Matthew again here:

“He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”  Matthew 10:1-8a

Certainly, Jesus had a large following. We have read about it over and over and over again in our study of His ministry to date. But note that Jesus had in mind to select an elite group from His followers, an “A” team of disciples He would also designate as apostles as well. The scriptures tell us these twelve men would come to form Jesus’ inner circle:

“Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot”.
So what did Jesus have in mind for His “A” team of disciples?

His very words provide us the answer:

"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”

Jesus saw an opportunity to expand His ministry work if He empowered a group of followers to do many of the things He was doing such as preaching the good news of the Gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, and exorcising demons from those who were possessed. All that was needed for them to do this was the delegation of power from Jesus.

And so it was. For as we look back to the scriptures for today, we read where Jesus:

“…gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

With that, the chosen twelve were equipped to do the work Jesus was calling them to do.

So what does this mean for Christ followers today?

I believe we need to keep these three very important things in mind as it applies to our ministry efforts in the name of Jesus.

1. We are chosen.

Just as the twelve were selected and called by Jesus for specific work, so too are we. We have all been picked for the “A” Team and each granted certain gifts that Jesus wants us to use toward the work He calls us to do. All we need to do is seek His will and respond to the things He has set aside for us to accomplish. This leads to the second thing we need to remember.

2. We are tasked.

Not just some Christians but all.

Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all He had commanded wasn’t given to some select subsection of the Christian community. Rather, it was given to ALL Christians without exception.

All Christians have been tasked to carry on Jesus’ Gospel spreading work. Period.

3. We are empowered.  
Jesus promised His followers the gift of the Holy Spirit from God the Father and that Spirit came and has continued to abide with believers ever since He ascended to sit at God’s right hand. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus equips us with the power we need to carry out His purposes. He never brings us to a task that He isn’t going to empower us to accomplish, all to His glory. It’s a truth we should never forget. Ever.

Ultimately, all the work the original twelve disciples performed, as well as the work disciples have performed since then, have helped bring the kingdom of heaven closer to earth, the hands of the Savior touching lives through those who have placed their faith and trust in Him.

Indeed, we are chosen, tasked, and empowered to carry out kingdom work by the King of all kings and that King’s name is Jesus Christ.

It’s time for today’s “A” Team to get to work in achieving what our Savior has commanded us to do.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD IN FIELDS READY FOR HARVEST



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk.com.
In Christ, Mark

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** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matthew 9:35-38

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Luke 10:1-2
This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.
How do you see the world we live in today?

Do you look at it with concern as more and more people choose to live without the Lord in their life?
I know I do. In fact, it’s the motivation toward writing nearly every day for the past ten plus years from the word of God. For we simply must never tire in our efforts to carry out Jesus’ call to make disciples, just not in our neighborhood or our community or the nation we reside in. Rather, Jesus called us to make disciples of all nations which means we are to do His work in helping all people find their way to salvation.

Indeed, there is a lot of work to be done with a lot of unsaved people occupying an immense world across a lot of territory.  
You see, we only see our world as one big harvest field filled with countless unsaved people when we look at things in the right perspective and consider the world’s population as a whole.  And when we get that view, then we can begin to grasp the gravity of the situation at hand and the associated urgency in regard to proclaiming the good news of Jesus wherever we are to whoever we meet.

Just like Jesus did.

Let’s look again at our passage for today from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as we find Jesus sensing urgency Himself more than 2,000 years ago:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matthew 9:35-38

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Luke 10:1-2

Here we find Jesus going “through all the towns and villages” where He taught in “synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” We know Jesus rarely stayed put; His ministry was always defined by proactiveness not complacency as He made it a priority to seek and care for those who needed help. And like today, there was no shortage of people who fit that category of being in need.  
Yes, Jesus was always busy in the harvest fields making a difference but we should note that He didn’t do what He did out of some sense of duty, like He felt obligated and compelled to do something even though His heart wasn’t in it. No, Jesus did what He did because He loved people, even when they didn’t love Him, and wished that none of them might be lost but rather found.

Indeed, as we look at the scriptures again, we find Jesus seeing the crowds of people and having “compassion on them”. He viewed them as “harassed and helpless”, “like sheep without a shepherd”. The harvest field was full of lost people, lost like a sheep would be without a shepherd.

Friends, this is where anyone finds themselves without Christ in their lives, living like helpless sheep as they are vulnerable to harassment or attack by an enemy (in this case, Satan) Satan who wants nothing more than to take sheep (person) away from the Great Shepherd (the Lord Jesus, see John 10).
Let’s revisit thinking about how many people there are in the world who don’t know Jesus and the salvation He brings. The astronomical number is both frightening and sad at the same time (in 2008, CBN estimated that two-thirds of the world had not accepted Jesus as Savior). This truth should motivate and drive us to the same sense of urgency that Jesus had in carrying out the Great Commission He gave us (Matthew 28:18-20), the Great Commission that calls us to “go” and “make disciples”, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” and “teaching them to obey all He commanded”. These are all action words and action is what Jesus wanted (and still wants) as we finish with His words to the disciples in the first century AD:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Jesus needs workers to attend to the sheep without a shepherd living in the harvest field of this world.

It’s time for all Christians to get to work to that end.

Amen.
In Christ,

Mark

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LIKE NOTHING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk.com.
In Christ, Mark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.
While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that He drives out demons."

Matthew 9:32-34

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.
Have you experienced a miraculous work of the Lord?

If not, perhaps you haven’t been keeping your eyes and ears open as they are happening in volume each and every day…and have been since the dawn of creation. You only need to read the first chapter of the first book of the Bible to see the awesome power of God in full display. You could also watch either of these two videos by Louie Giglio as they both serve to further underscore the greatness and majesty of God very well:


or

“Indescribable”, https://vimeo.com/23304568

Now turn your eyes from the Old Testament and look toward the New where we find Jesus and the breadth of His Father’s power on full display in and through Him and the works He performed during His ministry. In just the past few devotions alone, we have read accounts where He raised a young girl from death to life and brought total healing to a woman suffering from bleeding and two blind men with just a single touch. Indeed, He had performed many incredible acts of goodness among the people, acts that no one had ever witnessed before. We see that trend continuing today as we continue our study of Matthew, Chapter 9. Look again at these verses here:

While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."

But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that He drives out demons."  Matthew 9:32-34

In this passage, we find Jesus and His disciples encountering a “man who was demon-possessed and could not talk”. We don’t know how long this man may have been afflicted like this but note here that the demon within had rendered the man silent and the demon itself even remained quiet in the presence of Jesus. Contrast this with the man who had been taken over by an evil spirit named Legion who actually carried on a conversation with Jesus, knowing who He was and the great might He possessed, a might that could vanquish demons into the Abyss.

Well, the actions of the demons may have been different but one thing that wasn’t was how Jesus dealt with each. For in this account from Mathew, we read where Jesus drove the demon out, enabling the man to speak once again.

As we have seen throughout Jesus’ ministry, He had drawn a crowd who no doubt gathered with anticipation that He would do something remarkable and astounding in addition to teaching them the will of the Father and how they were to live. With the healing of the demon-possessed man, Jesus didn’t disappoint those who were in His company. In fact, those in the awestruck crowd proclaimed:

"Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
Indeed, the crowd had never seen any man do what Jesus had done. They had only seen God do similar works, which has always left me baffled who the people could not accept the claims of Jesus to be God’s Son. Surely, there could be by way of no other power that He could perform the acts He was.

Well, unfortunately not everyone was impressed with what Jesus had done. For scripture tells us that the Pharisees who witnessed the exorcism first-hand didn’t see it as an amazing miracle of God. Rather, they connected Jesus to Satan, saying "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons." They couldn’t have been more wrong and it’s sad to me that the Jewish religious leaders, the ones who had the obligation under God to teach people the truth, chose to ignore all the Messianic prophesies that had predicted Jesus’ coming and refused to align Him with His heavenly Father.

That sadness translates to present times as well. For aren’t these the same competing attitudes we see in our world today?

On one hand, we have those who believe in the power of God, or come to believe in the power of God, through the amazing, incredible works He does each and every day. These people have absolutely no reservations with believing Jesus is God’s one and only Son, that He has been given authority over the heavens and the earth, and that He possesses the power to do anything, to include being the Savior for all mankind.  

On the other hand, we have those who would like to attribute what they witness to other things like to science or black magic or chance, anything but a Master Creator and Maker and His only Son. These skeptics close their minds, hearts, eyes and ears to the possibility that anything could be of God and mock anyone who does. Sadly, they do it to their own demise and destruction for without believing in God and Jesus, they miss out on glory, now and forever.  

What a heartbreaking existence that is but it is all about choice. God gave us free will to choose salvation or damnation. We will rise or fall by way of the option we pick.

As for me, I choose to believe and trust in Jesus, the only One through which we can be saved, the only One through which all things are possible. Whether in New Testament times or today, there is nothing beyond the work of His almighty, infinitely powerful hands.

One thing’s for sure. Live for Jesus and He will continuously lead you to and through experiences that will leave you in awe like the crowd in today’s scripture passage. For a life with the Savior is a life like nothing you have ever seen.
Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE HEALING TOUCH



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk.com.
In Christ, Mark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.
Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," He said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"

When He had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him, and He asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"

"Yes, Lord," they replied.

Then He touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this."

But they went out and spread the news about Him all over that region.
Matthew 9:20-22, 27-31

A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against You,” his disciples answered, “and yet You can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 5:24-34

As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched Me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.

Then He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Luke 8:42-48
This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.
Have you ever needed healing in your life?

I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that everyone has at one time or another.
Some times the healing needed is physical; at other times, it’s psychological or emotional. It may even be a combination of both.

Point in case is the woman in our scripture passages today, a woman who “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.” Imagine the physical toll this would have taken on her over the long toll. Mark’s account tells us that she had been under the “care of many doctors and had spent all she had” to try and end her suffering but to no avail. Her condition didn’t get any better but actually worsened.

That would have been bad enough on its own but consider what this condition meant from a social perspective back in New Testament times. Because the woman was consistently bleeding, she would have been labeled as unclean and thus no one would have wanted to come in contact with her. Further, the woman would not have been allowed to participate in any Jewish religious events, lest she desecrate a place of holiness. I don’t know about you but a dozen years is a long time to feel exiled, rejected, unwanted, and unloved. The physical condition was bad enough but the mental anguish had to be equally difficult.
It’s pretty obvious to me that this suffering woman knew of Jesus’ power and ability to heal her. Her own thoughts give that away:

“She thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.”

And so touch Jesus, she did.

The scriptures tell us that the woman, in desperate need of relief from her infirmity, “came up behind” Jesus and “touched the edge of His cloak.” And immediately, “her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”

The woman was in dire need of a healing touch and so she touched the person she believed could deliver.
Well, we read where Jesus knew right away that something that happened for He knew “power had gone out from Him.” He demanded to know who had touched Him, much to the amazement of His disciples because with the people crowded around Jesus, there were surely many, many people who had brushed against Him. Still, only the woman had received a portion of His power and she was the only one who knew it. Finally, she decided to come forward and confess.

We read where she came to Jesus and “fell at His feet” while “trembling with fear”. She “told Him the whole truth” before Jesus took over the conversation saying:

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Think about this for a moment and the impact it had on the woman as well as everyone who witnessed what happened.

The woman once considered unclean was now called Jesus’ daughter. Once unfit to be in the presence of holiness, she now became a child of the Lord Most High, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sins of the world. Her faith in Jesus had gained her healing. Perhaps this is why so many people had touched Jesus but only the woman received His power, because she had the faith to trust He could remove her affliction and restore her to full health. She believed Jesus could be a life changer for her and He became just that.

Friends, this woman’s exceptional display of faith should serve as an example for all of us who need cured from whatever ails us, whether physically, psychologically, or both. Indeed, we can’t expect Jesus to do a full work of healing within us if we don’t have the faith that He can do it. If we read and trust in the scriptures as we should because God’s word is truth, then there’s simply no reason to not trust Him for the Bible leaves no doubt that Jesus possesses the healing touch.

He did back in the days of the New Testament and He still does today.
Go back to Matthew’s account where we find that the woman wasn’t the only one healed that day.

For after Jesus left the cured woman, he went with Jairus, the synagogue leader, to resurrect his daughter from death to life (see yesterday’s devotion from Matthew 9:23-26) before encountering two blind men who also acknowledged their faith in Jesus by answering, “Yes, Lord” after He asked them if they believed that He was able to heal them. After their profession of faith, Jesus simply “touched their eyes” and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you", and just as quickly as the woman’s bleeding had stopped, the men could see once again. Like her, Jesus had given them a whole new lease on life, all because of His healing touch.

Friends, I don’t know what your circumstances are today but I do know one thing, we serve and worship a Savior who has the healing touch. All we have to do is have faith in Him, faith like those who are in our scripture passages today and faith like so many other believers today who held onto their faith in Jesus and found themselves cured, renewed and restored.

What do you need healed today? And how would you respond if Jesus asked you, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?"

My hope is that you would echo the words of the blind men and boldly say, Yes, Lord”, and then receive the power of His healing touch.

It’s waiting and ready for you.  
Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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