Moooo Jordan

Malachi 4:2  But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

basketball-star-cowApparently baby cows have some serious leaping skills.  What exactly does that mean?  Can you imagine a calf slam dunking a basketball?  “Wow, that cow’s got some serious hops!”  It’s moo Jordan!  Or maybe it means that she could jump over vaults like a show horse.  I can almost hear the announcers now: “A perfect score for caramel the calf, Frederick.  Just stellar jumping skills, indeed.”  Well, neither of those two ideas seem very feasible.  So what is this leaping calf business all about?

Well maybe it has to do with healing.  Imagine a calf trapped in a stall.  That poor little guy is cramped in there with no where to go.  No running, no jumping, no playing… no life.  It is trapped waiting for life to begin.  But then the door flings open and out he goes.  He goes running and jumping freely without inhibition.  It’s like those little calf legs have never been fully used, but now they are running wild.  It’s the picture of freedom and it’s the picture God used for those He would bring healing to.

The sun of righteousness will rise with healing!  You see, the Son of God has risen with healing.  And His healing is for you, for those who revere His name.  He wants to set you free like a calf that has been trapped in a cage.  When He opens the gate of life and healing, you will go running around free.  You will prance around the field like a foolish calf dancing before the Son.   But you won’t care because you are healed.  His healing is here; He has opened the gate.  Receive it today!  Get moooooving already!

*Are you living trapped in the stall or leaping in the meadow? 

The Original Groundhog’s Day

2 Kings 20:8-11  8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What is the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the LORD’s temple on the third day? ” 9 Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the LORD that He will do what He has promised: Should the shadow go ahead 10 steps or go back 10 steps? ” 10 Then Hezekiah answered, “It’s easy for the shadow to lengthen 10 steps. No, let the shadow go back 10 steps.” 11 So Isaiah the prophet called out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow back the 10 steps it had descended on Ahaz’s stairway. 

It’s simple, really.  A shadow is a rough image cast by an object that is blocking rays of illumination.  In other words, when light is shining on you there will be a shadow on the other side.  Like the famous groundhog, Hezekiah saw his shadow.  But his shadow didn’t mean 6 more weeks of winter.  It was a confirmation to an answered prayer.  This whole situation came about because Hezekiah was told he was going to die.  But he prayed and asked God to heal him.  So God decided to heal him and give him 15 more years to live, and the shadow was the proof it would happen.

Now it wasn’t really the shadow that was the confirmation, it was what the shadow did.  This shadow broke the laws of physics by moving back 10 steps. (It would have been fun if God made shadow puppets on the wall; that would have really freaked Hezekiah out.)  It was impossible override of nature courtesy of the Almighty.  He asked Hezekiah what he wanted his shadow to do, so he asked for it to go back 10 steps on its own.  This miraculous act was the evidence that God would heal him – and He did.

The point of all this to me is that God has an override card.  He created creation and he can break the laws of nature.  He can heal where there is no cure.  He can bring things to life that have been left for dead.  He can make shadows do whatever He wants them to do.  He can rescue those who seem unreachable.  And He answers prayer.  Where does that leave us?  I hope it leaves us in a position of asking.  Like Hezekiah, we can boldly ask the Lord to intervene… not only because He can, but because He loves us.

Is your donkey thirsty?

Luke 13:14-17   14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Traditiooooooooon.  Tradition.  Ah, Fiddler on the Roof.  Tradition.  Religion.  Rules.  This is what Jesus was up against.  Well, not the fiddler on the roof but the other stuff.  Somewhere in the midst of serving God, the synagogue rulers got lost in their tradition.  They elevated the letter of the law above the spirit of the law.  The celebrated tradition more than they pursued the power of God.  

Jesus wasn’t having any of it.  He was going to heal people regardless of the day.  He wasn’t a doctor performing a surgery; He was the great physician setting people free.  So when the ruler got mad at him for “healing” this lady, Jesus asked him if his donkey was thirsty.  Because if his donkey was thirsty he would untie him and give him a drink.  Jesus untied this woman spiritually and gave her a drink of living water.  What’s the difference, Jesus wanted to know.

We can get stuck in that whole tradition trap, too.  What would happen if someone got healed during a time of extended worship and ministry?  Would you be frustrated that they were cutting into the sermon?  Are we really pursuing tradition over the power of God?  Before you jump to conclusions, there’s nothing bad about a sermon.  In fact, there’s lots of good… I deliver one every Sunday.  But as a pastor, I must pursue ministry the way Jesus did.  I must look for the Father’s heart and go after it, regardless of what that might look like.  We should do the same in our personal lives.  We should be pursuing His agenda over our routines.  Try it today and see what happens.

Who touched me?

Luke 8:25a “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  Now I realize that Jesus said lots of crazy things.  Most recently in my reading of Luke 8, he is sleeping in a boat that is sinking.  He wakes up, calms the storm and asks, “where is your faith?”  That’s not even a fair question.  I mean, the boat was sinking after all and He was sleeping.  I digress.  Jesus asks the question of who touched him and I can almost see the look on the disciples’ faces.  “You’re kidding, right Jesus?”  It says in verse 42 that there were so many people around, that the crowds almost crushed him.  The disciples told him so, too.  “Jesus, EVERYONE is touching you!”   I love it and I must admit I probably would have told him the same thing.  It’s like when a pastor says during a sermon, “if you’re here today and …”  Uh, we are all here today.  Did you forget we were sitting here listening to you?  That’s just the thing; everyone was touching Jesus.  Yet He wanted to know who touched him.

There must be a difference between touching Him and touching Him.  At least that is what He was saying.  Many bumped up against him that day; many were even pressed against him.  But only one person truly touched him.  She connected.  She experienced the fullness of his person and his power.  Yes, many people watched his miracles that day and many heard his teaching.  Hundreds and hundreds of people were inspired by him enough to follow him.  One was changed by the power of His touch.

Who are you in this scene?  Do you desire inspiration or touch?  So many Christians have been bumping up against God for years and yet have never truly experienced the power of his touch.  His touch brings life and healing.  But you have to want it and you have to pursue it.  I don’t want to live my life only being inspired by God, I want to live my life being touched by His presence and His power.  If you have been a member of the crowed, bumping up against God in your life every now and then, I challenge you to reach for his touch today.  Reach for his love and his healing.  If you will just make that connection, you will never be the same.

Where’s the party?

Luke 6:10-11   10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

What in the world is going on here?!  There is a man with a shriveled hand who comes to Jesus on the Sabbath.  Jesus talks to him for a minute and his hand is miraculously healed.  We have no indication that Jesus touched him, told him to be healed, or anything of the sort.  Regardless, the hand was healed!  There should be whooping and hollering.  There should be a huge celebration!  People should be asking, “Where’s the party?”  Instead, the Pharisees got angry.  What kind of a response is that?  They were not at all happy for the guy who received the miracle; they were overtaken by their own issues.  

I wonder if we ever have the same problem.  Someone gets blessed and we get jealous.  Someone gets healed and we get resentful.  Someone succeeds and we get mad.  What is it, friends, that causes us to respond in such a way?  Because the one who suffers most from this response is ourselves.  Responding negatively to another’s success is a sign that we have some areas in our life to look at.  Have you been caught up in this trap?  Are you unable to rejoice with others? If so, ask God to examine your heart today and reveal the places where you need healing.  Let’s not be like the Pharisees; let’s strive to celebrate the successes of those around us.

How to respond to God’s greatness

I Samuel 12:24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

My goodness, God is good! No scratch that; God is great! I don’t have to think real hard to consider what great things He has done.  Just this morning I was seeking Him and praying for healing for my body.  I was sick and couldn’t hardly function and BAM!  He faithfully brought healing to my body.  So I am fresh off His greatness right now.  But He is so much more than that.  He is my Savior, my healer, my friend, my everything.  He has done great things and I am confident there are many more to come.  Jesus loves me, this I know.  He pursues me, forgives me, refines me, and restores me.  He always holds up His end of the relationship.

So what’s my response to Him?  What is my role in our relationship?  Samuel told the people to do two things: fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully.  And Samuel even called down thunder and rain from heaven to freak them out a little bit.  Because they obviously needed to remember how great God is.  You see they often neglected these two things, to fear Him and serve Him faithfully.  In fact, they are likely the same two things that we struggle with today.

Fear Him.  Yes, the God of mercy and grace is still a little scary.  C.S. Lewis said that if we compare God to us it would be like comparing us to a slug.  He’s that much better, that much greater, that much smarter, that much more powerful.  The good news is that He isn’t going to pour salt on us.  But that should freak us out a little, how big He is.  And it should keep driving us to being right with Him.  I am not saying that fear should motivate our relationship with Him, but we should have a basic understanding of how massive He is.

Serve Him faithfully.  Faithfully. As in not half-heartedly.  We get flaky with our faith, though.  We serve Him when we feel like it, maybe when things get rough.  But we forget Him in the pace of life.  We lose track of our relationship, our bibles, and our prayers.  I wonder why this is.  I mean, when life gets really good, shouldn’t we remember who made it good?  Our response should be faithfulness.  That’s my commitment today: I will faithfully serve you Lord with my life.  In good times and bad, you will be my God.  And I’ll even be a little freaked out by You, too.