The disciples asked Jesus an interesting question, even if it was a little cocky.
Why do we take Communion? Why does it matter? Let’s take a look at the big picture.
God is gentle with us. He does not intrude into our misconceptions or wave red flags when we’re wrong about Him. He allows Himself to be misunderstood. He lets us wander any path we choose to take, though He will give direction if we’re listening and aware. If we ignore His warnings, He leaves us to the consequences of our actions. He allows Himself to be what ever we want Him to be. If we believe Him to be angry and vengeful, then He will not dispute us. If we believe Him to be a concept of societal making, He will stand by quietly as we build a case against Him. He will not defend Himself.
However, if we believe Him to be the Living God who created the universe, who allowed Himself to be Emmanuel, God with us, then He will be God with us. If we believe Him to be a God of miracles, then He will be a God of miracles. He will be to us as powerful and loving as we allow Him to be. If we allow our faith to rise to the level of those around us, He will never be more than that. But if we stretch our faith further and further, He will meet us step for step. He will be everything we believe Him capable of. God is not the one to set limits, we are. We determine how much He will do. Think about that and see if you can watch Him be everything you need Him to be. God is massive and He can be so much more than you know.
When someone needs physical or emotional healing, all kinds of expectations come into play, mostly related to fear. What if nothing happens? What you ask for healing and leave unchanged? Does that mean you are not worthy to be healed? Did you not believe enough? Those questions are difficult to answer. My best advice is to look to Jesus.
- “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:52)
- Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you. (Luke 18:42)
- He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)
- Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)
- Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matt 15:28)
- Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. (Matt 8:13)
Notice anything strategic in these texts? Jesus was known to be a healer. Either these people had seen Him heal before, or they heard about His miracles. They BELIEVED. They didn’t come hoping to be healed, they came hoping He would choose them. The woman with an issue of blood literally chased Him down, so great was her faith.
Here’s my point: believe with everything in you that God wants to heal you. Do not take no for an answer. The woman who argued with Him because she was a Canaanite came away ecstatic because her daughter was healed. All you have to do is touch Him. Healing is in His DNA. It’s yours. Rebuke fear. Rebuke doubt. Rebuke anything that tries to talk you out of it. Go after Him like the woman with the issue of blood and be healed, my friend.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to think like Jesus thinks? To have His ideas and outlook on life? To connect with His wisdom and grace? Paul says that we can. But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) The problems is, most of us don’t realize it or feel it. How do we get this mind of Christ anyway?
We have to start with transformation. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) The word transformed is the same word for Jesus’ transformation on the mountain, metamorphoo (Strong’s G3339). It means to be changed completely.
We begin to transform our mind by how we think. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. (Philippians 4:8) Our brain is like a muscle that we need to exercise. We have to build up good thoughts to chase out bad thoughts. It takes intention and commitment. You have to tell yourself to think about what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, and good. When you find yourself drifting into negativity or fear, ask God to forgive you and be intentional about how you think.
Once you make it a practice to “think on these things”, you will develop a new mindset as you are transformed. Bath your thoughts with the Word of God and praise. Go for it. Find out for yourself what having the mind of Christ will do for you.
When Jesus began to have huge followings, He gave one of His most impactful teachings, which we call The Sermon on the Mount. He told us that those will be blessed who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, and who are persecuted for righteousness sake. (Matt 5)
This teaching was to a crowd who came out to hear the now famous teacher from Nazareth. He’d performed miracles of healing, maybe He would do something they could witness. Maybe they did hunger and thirst for righteousness sake so they wanted to know what He would teach. It was a diverse crowd, yet Jesus managed to deliver a message that would be transformative if they received it and understood it.
But the Sermon on the Mount is just basic kingdom teaching. It outlines the basis of what our lives should look like if we call ourselves followers of Christ – be humble, be kind, be merciful, etc. The crowd Jesus taught had no clue where He was going with this message because He taught so unlike the scribes and the Pharisees. He had to keep it basic so the people had a place to start their understanding of His kingdom.
But there is so much more. When Nicodemus came to Jesus to understand what he was hearing, Jesus said to him, If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:11) Nicodemus was hearing the basics that Jesus taught the crowds and he struggled to understand it. Jesus was never able to really teach the mysteries of the kingdom as long as the basics were so hard to grasp.
We have the advantage of scripture and the Holy Spirit. We have the option to hunger and thirst for righteousness and be filled. There is more to than Basic Jesus than simply being kind. Of course, nothing deeper can be learned if the basics are not working in our lives. By following those foundational rules, we are the wise ones building our house on solid rock. It gives us a grid to take on the heavenly things God has been waiting to give us. Don’t be satisfied with basic. Press in for the more that awaits.
I think we forget sometimes that people are people – imperfect and flawed. We all are. It’s easy to run to judgement, or if it’s our personality, run away from conflict. But that’s the point, we’re all different. And the different in someone else is not necessarily bad. Sometimes God will put us together with someone very different from us to see how we will treat them. I believe that, because I believe His word: As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
What does it mean to sharpen the countenance of a friend? I think it means to make the friend more beautiful. They knock off flaws in you as you knock off flaws in them. But the process of doing that may not be pleasant. We may need to extend grace and forgiveness. We may need to receive grace and forgiveness. It might allow God to uncover areas in our life that we’ve held onto that we need to let go of. Our friends see us in a way that we can’t see ourselves because we’re pretty good at justifying our behavior sometimes.
If you feel stuck in a relationship with a friend that you want to get out of, ask yourself why? Why does that person rub you the wrong way? Ask God to show you. Ask Him to show you what you should repent of. Ask Him to help you love that person and see them the way God does. In the end, you may have found the best friend you ever had.
Somehow David had a way of grasping New Testament teaching in an Old Testament world. In Psalm 86, he said, Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life for I am godly. First of all, if he hadn’t said he was poor and needy, we might have felt that calling himself godly was a little rich. But David understood that repentance brought him God’s forgiveness. When he was forgiven, he was pure before God. What ensured that godliness was his humility.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God. Poor in spirit is just as David expressed it, poor and needy. David’s humility allowed him to step into the kingdom of God that Jesus described ahead of his time.
This is an important lesson. Godliness without humility is pedantic and often works-based. Jesus modeled humility for a reason. He was born in a barn. He grew up working as a carpenter. He washed his disciples’ feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:15-17)
Being poor and needy is a way to growth in the Lord. It is a hunger to know more of Him, to understand the ways of His kingdom, and learn the things that we need to let go of to do that. Once we stop being hungry for God we stop being humble before Him, and that’s a dangerous place to be.
Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt 5:8) He wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t possible for us, but so much of living in the kingdom is intentional. It doesn’t always just fall into our laps.
We all know our sins. We know when we’ve screwed up. The question is, what will we do about it? Sometimes we feel so badly about what we’ve done, or thought, that we confess it right away. But there are other sins that we don’t think are that bad, or we’re just not ready to let go of them. You can’t have a clean heart if you hold onto sin.
“Confession is good for the soul” is not just a nice saying, it shows us the way to life. Jesus promised us abundant life. We will never experience that until we lay down everything to Him – both good and bad. Repentance cleans us up. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you those things you need to deal with. Just do it. You can’t move on until you do.
When you have a clean heart before God, the weight of guilt will fall away. You remove anything that blocks your heart from hearing Him. We are still human, so sin will always be something to deal with, but that’s the trick. Deal with it. Repent like David did, immediately and with your whole heart. Then you can stand before God washed in the blood and pure in His eyes. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
There’s so much in this psalm to learn from. It’s simple and straightforward, and so easy to pass by. Let’s look at this.
Don’t follow people who live ungodly lives. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down. You may work with them and live next door to them, but you don’t need to laugh at their crude humor or seem impressed with their sinful life. Be helpful, be kind, but don’t follow them.
Meditating on the law was meant to focus the person on God and keep them safe from sinful influences. The law said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your strength. Just doing that would keep you from straying into dangerous areas. The intentional effort it takes to do that comes back in blessing.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The intentional focus to meditate on the things of God yields strength of soul. God sees that and loves it. He prospers the one who will keep faith strong. Planted by streams of water is refreshing and life-giving.
In our busy, worrisome life today, it’s so easy to overlook the simple things that God intended for our help. Be intentional. Think about the goodness of God and remind yourself to do it as often as possible. See what happens when you do.