Monday, May 1, 2017

What Do You Want?

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked. My Rabbi, the blind man said, I want to see!" 

Bartimaeus was a "blind beggar" according to Mark 10:46-52. We also know that he was the son of Timaeus. His father's name meant, "highly prized." However, Bartimaeus' name translates as, "a certain blind man." What kind of identity is that? 
How does the son of "highly prized" become  "a certain blind man" begging on the side of the road? Bartimaeus had become used to a life of begging others for the things he needed to sustain his life. However, when he heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby, 

he knew this would be no ordinary day....

I can imagine that like most of us, Bartimaeus was used to his daily routine. Get up. Set up camp by the roadside. Beg for his daily needs. Hope that he got enough from those who were willing, to make it through the day. But this day was different. Jesus was near by. Perhaps Bartimaeus had heard about this Jesus from Nazareth who was going around healing people; enabling the lame to walk, and restoring sight to the blind. I believe if he could have,  Bartimaeus would have loved to travel to those places where Jesus was performing these miracles, but it may have been that his condition prevented him from doing so. Can you imagine what he may have thought after hearing about these tales of healing...,"If only I could get there. I would ask Jesus to heal me..." Because of his condition, he was forced to live in such a way that limited how far he could go. Literally. He could only go as far as he had been, which was to the side of the road and beg as he had always done.

I wonder if Bartimaeus knew that when he woke up on that particular morning, it would not be business as usual. A chance encounter with Jesus would change his life forever. He didn't have to travel to where Jesus was, in essence Jesus came to him. As the large crowd passed by, Bartimaeus shouted, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many people nearby yelled at him and tried to quiet him. But that only made Bartimaeus shout louder! "Son of David, have mercy on me!" You see what this crowd failed to realize, was that Bartimaeus didn't know when  or if he would have this opportunity again. Jesus was near by and he wasn't going to miss him. How many of us take the presence of the Lord for granted? We assume that we have one more Sunday, or one more bible study to attend, and we forget that we have to seek the Lord while he yet may be found! Bartimaeus understood  the opportunity that lay before him. It didn't matter what what those around him said. He wasn't worried about what they thought of him and his condition. He needed to get to Jesus.

Jesus heard him. In the midst of the large crowd, clamoring for Jesus' attention, Jesus heard Bartimaeus call out to him. He instructed those around him to call Bartimaeus to him. Can you imagine what Bartimaeus must have felt with each step that  he took as he walked toward Jesus? He was getting closer and closer to the One who could change his life forever. The next thing Jesus says to him blows my mind, "What do you want me to do for you?"  Pay careful attention to Bartimaeus response. Those who were within ear shot of Jesus' question to Bartimaeus, might have assumed he would ask for what he had always asked for. Money? Food? Clothes? After all, he was a beggar, you know.....and beggars....beg. But Bartimaeus exuberantly responds, "Rabbi, I want to see!" So many of us seek the Lord asking for things which are directly connected to our condition. Tired of being lonely? "God send me a husband or a wife!" Constantly struggling with your bills? "God please send me more money!" Going through a difficult season in your life? "God, get me out of this!"

Bartimaeus asked to be made whole. He had faith that Jesus could do this for him, and because of his faith, Jesus granted his request to receive his sight. 

When we are healed and whole, we are much better equipped to handle the other "stuff" that occurs in our lives. Momentary fixes which do not address the real issues in our lives will continue to show up and we will come to think that our identity is somehow wrapped up in our condition. We will never get to the root of the problem because we are so busy trying to fix the symptoms and not the problems themselves. Only Jesus can can heal us in this way. He has a way of asking the right questions to get to the heart of the matter. It is my prayer for myself, and for you that when Jesus poses the question to us, "What do you want me to do for you?" we will respond much like Bartimaeus, with the appropriate response.

Till next time,
Stay Connected

Monday, April 24, 2017

You Can Trust Him...

Have you ever earnestly prayed about something, left it at the feet of Jesus, and felt peace? 
I have. 
Have you also prayed repetitiously about that same thing, because something may have happened to cause you to doubt what you believed God said?
I have.
Can I share my devotion from Hebrews 10:23 with you? The verse simply states, "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God Can Be Trusted to keep his promise. That is such good news! God's word is filled with endless promises and He can be trusted to keep every. single. one. I have to remind myself of this often. Once I leave a care or concern at the feet of Jesus, I Can trust that he has indeed heard my prayer. 

One of my favorite passages of scripture can be found in the book of Philippians chapter 4. The Apostle Paul encourages believers to "be anxious for nothing," but to pray about everything. Give it to God. Thank him for hearing you. Trust that he has your best interest at heart, (Jer. 29:11). Paul then says that God's peace, which is often times inconceivable, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That means that we don't have to worry about if God heard us or if He cares. He does, (Psalm 138:3). Now allow HIS peace to comfort you. Trust him. He is a good, good father and he cares deeply for his children. 

I just want to encourage you today, whoever you are. God has not forgotten about you. He knows  exactly what you stand in need of and he intends to keep his promises to you. I don't know about you, but I think that's Good News!

Till next time,
Stay Connected

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Blessing of Being Inconvenienced

One of the things that I absolutely adore about my Heavenly  Father, is his providence. For the purpose of this blog post, I am referring to this particular meaning of the word providence as " Timely preparation for future eventualities." I am often in awe of his orchestrating power as it relates to his activity in the lives of his children.

 So, normally I take the train to work, but more often then I should, I drive. When I drive into work, I park in the same garage which has valet service. I dropped my car off yesterday morning like I normally do,  and headed into work. Throughout the course of my day, I was informed  the drama class that I was going to teach later that day had been canceled. Upon finding out this information, I stayed at work a little later. When I left work that day, I headed to the garage to pick up my car and when the attendant pulled up, I noticed that my rear driver's side tire was completely flat. Needless to say, it was not that way when I drove in this morning. 

I did my best not to get upset as I asked him, "what happened?!?" I stayed calm, because I like these guys and at the same time I am trying to figure out what I am  going to do, (I don't have AAA). One of the guys told me to pull the vehicle over to the side and he would put my spare tire on for me. Did I even have a spare tire?I just bought this car 5 months ago, and I never thought to check for that. As the gentleman looked in the back of my car, he located a jack under a panel in the trunk, (didn't even know I had one) and eventually the spare tire. While he worked to disengage the spare from the bottom of my car, a little old like walked over to us, (him) holding a yellow ticket. I could see that she seemed a bit confused, her hair and jacket were wet from the rain that was currently holding our city hostage. She asked the guy, "Are you an employee here?" He looked at her and said "yes." She showed him her ticket and said that she was trying to find her car. He let her know that the ticket she held was not for their garage. She seemed utterly flummoxed as she tried to ascertain exactly where she parked her. I noticed that she had a thick accent and obviously was not familiar with this area. I felt the need to step in. There was not a phone number or address on the ticket she held for her car, but there was a generic name for a parking company. I googled it. I called. It was after hours and I kept getting a command to "leave a message."

The situation seemed a bit hopeless. She was elderly, possibly a foreigner, couldn't remember where she parked her car, soaked from the rain, and her husband, who was with her had a bad leg and was not up for the scavenger hunt from garage-to-garage to find their car. She began walking toward her husband, to continue her quest, I assume. I ran up to her and said, "As soon as he finishes with my car, I will drive you around until we find the garage where you parked your car." She looked at me as if I had two heads. Maybe she couldn't believe that a complete stranger would offer to do such a thing, especially considering she really didn't know where the car was. (I should mention that this is Center City Philadelphia, where there are parking garages and lots every couple of feet). I knew that I had to do it though. I was honored to do it.

Once my car was up and running, and after we had a bit of small talk, (I found out she and her husband were Polish. I told her I went to school with a Polish guy...)we headed out. We entered into the rainy, rush hour traffic of downtown Philadelphia. As we are driving, I asked questions. She knew she parked at an indoor garage, not an open lot. We drove around but stayed within about a four block radius. As we drove down one of the streets, I decided to pull into a garage that was attached to one of the big hotels in Center City to ask the attendant if he knew which garage issued tickets like the one her husband was now holding. I pulled up to the attendant and said, "I have this beautiful couple who is trying to locate their car. Do you know which Garage gives tickets like this?" Before I finished my question, the husband flashed the yellow ticket and asked in his heavy Polish accent, "Is this you?" The attendant smiled and said, "Yes. I remember you." I said, "Are you sure? Because I'm not letting them go unless you're sure." I rolled the rear passenger window down and the attendant smiled at the wife and again  said, "Yes, I remember you. Did you find where you were going okay?" The wife asked, "Where is the guy in the white jacket?" The attendant let her know that he had left for the day. They began to exit my car to retrieve their own. I looked at the wife, happy that she would soon be reunited with her car and said, "We did it! God Bless You!" She asked God to bless me as well and told me I was a nice person. I felt good about all of it.

Situations like the one above remind me that I am not in control. Because I belong to God, he has just cause and permission to interrupt my life whenever he deems necessary and I am grateful for it. I am beginning to see that in moments where I could potentially become angry or frustrated because I am inconvenienced, those are prime opportunities to pay attention to what God is doing.

I say this to encourage you so that the next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, made to wait, thrown off course, you use it as an opportunity to ask the father, "Okay. What would you like me to do?" You just might find that he is keeping you from something, or setting you up to be a blessing to someone else.

I didn't get the names of that lovely couple, but I trust that God knows them and is indeed watching over them. I am grateful that he allowed our paths to cross yesterday, and I look forward to the next opportunity to be used in such a way!

Stay Connected,

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:4 ~

Monday, September 26, 2016

Don't Give Up

The enemy is banking on you giving up. He would like nothing more than for you to forfeit the very things which God has handcrafted just for you.
He will send you distractions, plague upon your fears,  and cause doubt in the areas of your life you were once so  sure about.

He is the father of lies and a master illusionist (John 8:44). He will present people/opportunities to you which seem 'good enough' but do not represent God's best for you. He will manipulate you into thinking that God would never be interested in using you. After all, you're not skilled enough, not intelligent enough, not popular enough and not connected enough. But what that silly devil fails to realize is that God has ALWAYS done much with little.
Our inadequacies and weaknesses provide a platform, a stage, and arena if you will,  for God's strength to be displayed. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). The enemy is a thief and he is on assignment to steal from us, kill us, and destroy us. But Jesus says that he comes so that we might have life, and have it abundantly! (John 10:10).
When the enemy tries to convince us of anything which is not life giving we must immediately resist him and he will flee from us.
I choose to believe what God says about me; not the lies and accusations of a toothless, defeated foe! God says that he knew me before I was even formed in my mother's belly (Jeremiah 1:5). He chose me and had a plan for my life. It is vitally important that we not lose sight of who God says we are. His voice is the one that matters. Continue to meditate on God's word. Seek him. Pray. Do not give audience to the enemy. And remember whenever God speaks a word, IT IS DONE! Nothing can change what God has already set in order. Don't give up. If God has said it, it's as good as done!
Stay Connected,
For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory. 
~ II Corinthians 1:20 ~

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fullness of Joy

So, I've been thinking lately about what it means to have joy. I mean to really have joy, no matter what external circumstances may arise. The dictionary defines joy as:
The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
Growing up in the church, I'd often hear an exuberant church mother proclaim, "This joy that I have; the world didn't give it to me, and the world can't take it away!" She was testifying to this "joy" bestowed upon her by her savior.
I have often felt that joy.
Psalm 16:11 states, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
Wow...fullness of joy.
This type of joy cannot be manipulated by external things, people, or circumstances. A person cannot give this to you. They might have the ability to make you happy for a while, but this overwhelming joy can only be found in Christ. Ask me how I know? Go ahead...I'll wait.
- Ernee, how do you know?
- I'm so glad you asked ;-)
I know this to be true because currently in my life, I am dealing with a rather difficult emotional situation. It's not fun. However, I am keenly aware of the indescribable joy that I have when I am in the presence of the Lord. It's amazing. In John chapter 15, Jesus speaks with his disciples regarding the importance of abiding in him and in verse 11 he states, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
Wow...complete joy.
It is so important to remember that our joy and our strength come form the Lord. In life we are going to face difficult times and will even be discouraged. However, it is comforting to know that we can find joy in the Lord. And I don't know about you, but I find that I have strength for the journey when I am focused on him. 
Wherever you are, if you find yourself reading these words, please know that it is not by mistake. The Lord wants me to let you know that you can find joy in him. The joy he gives is not fleeting, but it is lasting and will fill your life completely.  
Till next time,
Stay connected :-)

Friday, July 15, 2016

"How Are You?"

"How are you?" This question is asked by million's of people throughout any given day. It is such a loaded question and is often asked by many people who perhaps do not realize the gravity of their inquisition. Truth be told, most people who ask that question are not looking for a sincere answer. To the contrary, when someone asks, you "how are you?" they have probably anticipated your answer before the question leaves their mouth. Common responses to such a question might be, "I'm fine" "I'm good, you?" or even, "I can't complain." I have realized that most of the people who answer the question have gotten used to offering a generic response, even when they are not "fine." 
Today as I arrived at work someone asked me, "how are you?" and my response was, "I'm good." But in all actuality,....I'm not. Two days ago I receive some very troubling news and my emotions have been all over the place. I have prayed and sought the Lord, but sometimes I don't even know what to say.
Amazingly enough though, the morning before I received  this news, I had such a great time basking in the presence of the Lord. It was almost as though he was preparing me for what was to come later that afternoon. So, that is what I have held on to. It gives me peace to know that my heavenly father cares enough about me to build me up and equip me to handle situations that I don't know even exists.
Even in the midst of trouble, I am reminded  of my DAILY need for him. I know the road ahead may be a tough one, but I am confident that if I stay connected to him, he will pull me through. I encourage you to fully rely upon our life sustaining savior.  Even when a question as simple as, 'how are you?" makes you want to ball up and cry, please know that God sees you and he can give you peace and hope in the most troublesome times.
Till next time,
~Stay Connected
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome
 the world.” ~John 16:33