“We have a glitch…”“We need a miracle to pull it all together...”“Please say some prayers…”These were words we hoped we’d never hear… words that took us to new depths of despair and hopelessness.
Over two years ago, the economic recession that’s still affecting so many people caused us to leave our home and relocate to another state where jobs were available.For a year and a half, we managed to pay for our old home while also paying for a home in our new state.Savings almost depleted, we accepted the fact that we had to sell our original home even though it meant losing all of the equity we had accumulated over almost fifteen years.Unfortunately, that same recession had dropped the value of our home over 40%.Forget any equity, it would no longer even sell for the amount we owed - we were “under-water.”
Last November we received an excellent offer to purchase our old house.The realtor told us that this type of sale (a “short-sale” that is for less that the amount owed) could take four to six months.We needed to be patient.Seven months later and facing bankruptcy if the sale didn’t close by the end of May, we received these words from our realtor: “We have a glitch…”“We need a miracle to pull it all together...”“Please say some prayers…”
Yes, those words took us to new depths of despair and hopelessness.But, they also caused us to do something we should have done from the beginning.We gave it to God.
I don’t mean that we asked Him for help - we had already done that… many times.But, we had never really given it to Him completely.We had forgotten Philippians 4:6
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This admonition from our Lord is spoken ever clearer in the Message:
“Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
We did just that!We stopped worrying, shaped our worries into prayers and let Christ displace all the worry in our lives.We put Him in total control!
Only five days before the end of May - before the last possible day to complete the sale - the lawyers, the broker, the title company and the realtor told us they were at an impasse - they saw no way to pull it all together in time.Later that same day we received this message: “We now can close…”
God had made the impossible possible!He did what we could not do…
Jesus Himself said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God …with God all things are possible." (Luke 18:27 and Matthew 19:26 - NIV)
GospeLines Prayer:Father God, You are magnificent! You are wonderful!Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need not fear because You are with us.You lead us beside quiet waters, You restore our souls.Teach us Father to stop worrying and to shape our worries into prayers and let Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, displace all the worry in our lives.
A wedding was the most joyous occasion for a Jewish family and like today, it took great preparation and planning.The guest list was determined long before the event and refreshments were carefully provided based upon that number.But when Jesus attended the wedding at Cana he brought with him at least four of His disciples, straining the provisions far past the breaking point until the host ran out of wine.It was His fault Mary must have thought, so why not address her son to fix the problem?Her request caused Jesus’ response, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?My time has not yet come,”(verse 4) but He didn’t hesitate to provide the very best wine for the wedding guests.
Children who grew up in Texas during my day learned one rule which could never be broken:“Never Talk Back to Mama,” especially if you wanted to live to see your next birthday.It just wasn’t done, not even after you became an adult.It was disrespectful, and carried extreme consequences which involved both Mama and Daddy.It seems like that’s what Jesus is doing here in this verse doesn’t it?Let’s look a little closer.
Calling her “Woman” instead of Mother was an endearing term to call most women, but not your own mother.By doing so Jesus was redefining their relationship.According to historical documents Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, died while Jesus was a teenager and Mary looked to her son as the head of the household.But in this moment it was Jesus’ purpose to tell her she would have to lose him as son before she could gain him as Savior.“Why do you involve me?” was His declaration of independence as an adult and Mary’s confirmation of dependence upon Him as more than a son, now as Lord of her life, too.There are times when Jesus’ response to us, while confusing at first, expresses His desire to give us not what is good but what is best.
Mary knew Jesus better than anyone else in the world and chose not to over react when He then said, “My time has not yet come.”Instead, she told the servants to do whatever He asked of them, which appeared to be inconsistent behavior on His part.What Jesus chose to do in Cana, had to be consistent with what He would do for the rest of His life, up to and including the Cross.There would be other times when Jesus would say no, then agree to what He said He wouldn’t do.For example, his brothers suggested that He go to Jerusalem; Jesus said no but then went (John 7:1-10).And inJohn 11:1-7the sisters of Lazarus asked Jesus to go to their brother’s sick bed; Jesus refused but later changed His mind.Rather than be guided by human pressures, our Lord chooses to respond to our need on a deeper level than we can ever imagine.He still desires to give us not what is good but what is best for us.
However mysterious the story of the first miracle may be, it stirred up an unconquerable faith in His disciples!From that point forward they believed in Him and had an unwavering loyalty.It is that kind of devotion which He wants from you and me.There are moments when we discover things about Jesus and then there are times when we know Him in a deeper sense of the soul.This is one of those times that our spirit engages Him through a simple yet profoundly poignant story.Jesus was willing to expose Himself to the wedding guests, as He does with us, to overcome their lives with a joy which could never be explained completely but would never be forgotten. That is how Jesus cares about you, too.He loves you so much that He wants what is best for you and will go to miraculous ends to make it happen.
GospeLines Prayer:Dear Heavenly Father, we have foolishly mocked the rules from the Bible in favor of our “better” values; we have given up on time-honored biblical principles, and followed our own way; and we have quit honoring role models who stood steadfast in the Faith, to chase after charismatic men and women with feet of clay.Let this be a teaching moment for us that Father still knows best!Amen and amen.
“Insufficient facts always invite danger” is a quote from the character Spock during the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" which was first aired almost 40 years ago.We've all seen countless examples of situations where "insufficient facts" (or distorted facts) have caused problems.
Fiction writers hope that their audience will have insufficient facts about the topic at hand or that the readers will ignore and not question the facts while reading their story.Although knowledge of the facts allows us to recognize fiction for what it is, fictional information presented and accepted as fact can make stories more entertaining... Who knows, maybe some of it could be true...?
Another tool of the fiction writer is to present real facts that have been distorted just enough to support the imaginary story.These could be facts only partially explained; or, they could be untruths injected with just enough truth to make them difficult to recognize as falsehoods.All these techniques are great tools for fiction writers; but, what about using these tools to present a distorted and self-serving view of God’s word?
Far too many are choosing to forget (or ignore) portions of scripture. They act like certain (offending) scriptures have been removed from the Bible to better serve a post-modern church.Partial facts…
Others, in a rush to be politically correct and not offend anyone, have perverted the very words of God by “reinterpreting” truth to fit societies image - disguising falsehoods as truth.
Even more disturbing is the degree to which many who profess to be Christians are silently tolerating this distortion of God’s truth.
Perhaps our newfound tolerance and acceptability of distorted truth and misrepresented facts are born of fear - fear that standing for the truth of Scripture will not allow us to be accepted into today’s post-modern, anything-goes society.
Perhaps we have forgotten Jesus’ words that “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14 - NIV)
Or we’ve forgotten that He then added: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 - NIV)
The Apostle Paul reiterated Christ’s words when he said: “…I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2nd Corinthians 11:3 - NIV)
Pray that God will infuse each of us with the fortitude to speak the truth in love, to tolerate the ridicule of those who would call us narrow-minded and to ignore political correctness in favor of God’s true word.Pray that we do not let go of the commands of God while holding on to the traditions of men - that we remember Jesus’ words to the Jews who had believed him: “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.”(John 8:31 - NIV)
The Bereans received God’s message with great eagerness; but, they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what they were told was true (Acts 17:11).They would not allow insufficient (or distorted) facts to invite danger into their midst.Be a Berean!
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
This was all new to the disciples.They had only known Jesus for a short period of time and already He had performed a miracle in their presence at Cana.What was there not to like about Him?He was a gentle giant among men, so full of compassion, wiser than anyone they had ever known, and Jesus’ confidence that His mission was the only one that mattered was contagious.From the wedding at Cana, they traveled with the Messiah to Capernaum and then to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.The disciples were getting to know who Jesus was, and what to expect from Him; they were beginning to understand Him a little more every day.But all of that was about to change.
They curiously followed Jesus into the temple court in Jerusalem and watched as He pushed His way through the merchant’s tables; He then picked up some cords of rope He found lying on the ground.It became obvious to the disciples that Jesus was fashioning some sort of whip from the cords, but what happened next was unexpected.Jesus charged through the outer courts in a rage yelling, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market,” and chased out the animals and the men who were called money changers.The practice of exchanging the currency and providing animals and doves to be purchased for sacrifice had become a dirty and dishonest business in the name of religion.Outside of the misguided scribes and Pharisees, such passion had never before been seen in their lifetime, but they recalled that it was said of David, “Zeal for your house consumes me!” (Psalm 69:9).
In the last serious religious survey by the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, many of us were saddened about their findings in the USA.Typically, the land of our founding fathers, New England, was the rock of religion in the nation, while the Northwest has been at the bottom of those interested in religion.But the new survey shows that America’s religious culture is cracking…the number of American’s claiming no religious affiliation has doubled in the Northeast from 1990 to 2008.This trend is a clarion call for people who are passionate about their Lord to stand up and speak with conviction and confidence about the Good News that Jesus is Lord.But let me warn you!When David spoke with that kind of passion about the House of God, he was openly criticized.And when Jesus spoke out…well, you know how that ended for Him.
Jesus’ zealous tantrum in the temple surprised the religious leaders; but there were a few who knew the prophecy of Malachi, “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple!”(Malachi 3:1)God doesn’t look lightly upon those who show disrespect for His Name.He has a passion for holiness and reverence and looks with disdain on those people and places where religion has become a dirty business. Jesus walked right into that temple, “suddenly,” just as Malachi said He would, and began to chase out the vulgar men and animals to make way for the worship and reverence of Jehovah. What the church leaders of the day perceived to be necessary to their religious practice, Jesus saw as perversion.The priests and Levites encouraged the merchant’s activities in the court because it eased the burden of the worshippers who wanted to offer a sacrifice during Passover.
If Jesus “suddenly” showed up at church this Sunday, would he come with a whip?Would He shed tears of joy over your practices or would a tantrum be in order?It isn’t difficult to see that a lot of our worship activity is designed to make the whole church experience competitive with the entertainment we find in the secular world.We seem to think if we put on a good show for them, they will want to come back the next Sunday.Beloved, I am not opposed to putting our best effort into something as important as worship, but Christians will always be held to a higher standard than the world.Just because we shower the worshippers with professional singers, and expose them to the hottest Christian athlete or politician, doesn’t mean they will come back next Sunday.It just means that you have to continue making the glitter a priority above the Word of God.Evidence that it works over a long period of time is simply not there; to the contrary, church attendance is still in decline in the USA.God help us to prepare for that day when Jesus will once again come “suddenly” into our presence.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, help us to make church more about what is holy, and to care less about what is popular; challenge our worship leaders to act more like prompters and less like performers; and give the congregation a greater expectation to hear the voice of God and to be less satisfied by the voices of entertainment.Amen and amen.