Do not be afraid, only believe. Mark 5:36
On Dec 30th (Friday). The devotional from Max Lucado in “God is with you Everyday!” read;
“Take a pen and paper and get alone. Go where it’s quiet, where you can think. Take your pen in your hand and ——- are you ready? ———— write down what you believe. Not what you think or hope or speculate but what you believe. Put on paper those bedrock convictions that are worth building a life upon, that are worth giving a life for.
Now look at your list. Analyze it. What do you think? Is your foundation solid enough to stand on? If not, be patient. Give yourself some time to grow.
Don’t throw that list away. Put your list someplace where you will always have it. In your wallet, your purse…. somewhere convenient.
The next time you are intimidated by Mr. Know It All, or by Miss Have It All, the next time your self image limps out the door, pull out your list. Take a long look at it. Have any of your undeniables been threatened? Has your foundation been attacked?
Usually not. Here’s the point: If you know what you believe (I mean really know it), if you know what’s important and what’s trivial, then you won’t be tied down by all the little Lilliputians in the world.
I really believe that.” (Max Lucado)
“While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue ruler’s house saying, “Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?” But Jesus, paying no attention to what was said, told the synagogue ruler, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. They came to the house of the synagogue ruler where he saw noisy confusion and people weeping and wailing loudly. When he entered he said to them, “Why are you distressed and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they began making fun of him. But he put them all outside and he took the child’s father and mother and his own companions and went into the room where the child was. Then, gently taking the child by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up.” The girl got up at once and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). They were completely astonished at this. He strictly ordered that no one should know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” (Mark 5:35-43)
It is hard to “just believe”, in the face of some things. Things that have happened to you and to me. Things as horrible as sickness, as devastating as death, as heartbreaking as divorce or separation. It would be hard for the man in this story to think that anything would or could change. Death allows no arguments and listens to no promises. Some events seem to be so complete, so life changing, they seem only to promise misery. We have all seen or experienced that this year.
It would be difficult for Jairus to feel hope now for anything good. To trust the healer who had said he would come and heal his daughter. He would be shaken to his core. Some things seem to be too big even for Jesus, and worse, sometimes it seems as if his timing is wrong, he is too late, or perhaps, not strong enough.
Life is confusing and difficult and things just overtake us sometimes and overwhelm us, we have all known that to be true this year. How does one go forward from here? How can we make it through another twelve months, another 365 days of disappointment, struggle, fear, and discouragement?
We choose; yes, we choose to believe. Despite the seemingly undeniable circumstances we choose to believe the truth that we believe to be undeniable.
Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written: “so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged.” (Rom 3:4)
We choose it in the face of Life, and all it’s hard hitting, heartbreaking, strength draining ugliness. We choose, it’s a choice, to believe that there is a Happy God who has inaugurated a Kingdom of righteousness and Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit. That he has qualified us and carried us into the Kingdom of his own dear Son, giving us faith to believe in him and to believe in it!
Over the next few days I am going to write down my undeniable list. I have been chewing on it since Friday when I read the Lucado devotional. I am going to finish this morning by reading to you, declaring to you some of the undeniables that I have chosen to believe, despite the difficulties. It is not complete yet and actually I know I will be adding to it for the rest of my life. It is not my list of doctrines or theology that I love. It is what I have learned, the hard way, especially in the last twenty or so years and even very recently. And I choose to believe that today, Jan 1st 2017 that it is true. No matter what.
My List of Undeniables.
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! (Gal 2:20.21)
I believe in a Happy God whose essence is Love and whose every decision is dictated by it.
I believe that in the “here and now” there is another Kingdom that is growing irresistibly and unstoppabley.
Jesus Christ is in charge of that Kingdom and the rest of this world, right now! And his government will never end.
God is good and through his son we receive everyday grace after grace after grace.
The Holy Spirit is in us every moment as we believe, and upon us for all that God has planned in advance for us to do.
That God is faithful to us and will keep us strong to the end, completing the work in us that he has started.
“The LORD is our shepherd, We lack nothing. He takes us to lush pastures, he leads us to refreshing water. He restores our strength. He leads us down the right paths for the sake of his reputation. Even when we must walk through the darkest valley, we fear no danger, for you are with us; your rod and your staff reassure us. You prepare a feast before us in plain sight of our enemies. You refresh our heads with oil; our cups are completely full. Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue us all our days, and we will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of our lives.” Psalms 23:1-6 NET
“What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
Happy New Year!