Jesus set us right with God

In my lifegroup we are studying Romans. What a wonderful time we are having getting greater revelation of God’s grace, learning more about why and how Jesus set us right with God. Every week we are reminded that it’s all about God. Not us. It’s all about Who He is, and what He says about us.

The blindness

Have you had the experience of crying out to God for many years, and then as the busy-ness of life takes over, the cry is still there, but not so loud? Then one day you have this moment, where the Holy Spirit nudges you and says, ‘Look.’ You look and see that God is answering that prayer. A smile comes over your face, and your heart feels full. The blindness of busy-ness is lifted.

The blindness of busy-ness

When this recently happened to me, I started thinking about how we often get so focused on other things, that we miss what God is doing. Proverbs 29:18 in The Message Bible says …

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Proverbs 29:18 The Message

When I obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and looked and saw what God was doing, I did indeed feel and know that I was most blessed.

The Amplified Bible says Proverbs 29:18 this way,

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

Ummm … No revelation of God and His wordthe people are unrestrained

The blindness in our thinking

Let’s look at this scripture for a moment in the context of our thought-life. That is, when our thoughts are not focused on God’s truth they can wander wherever they desire. This happens when we are not actively taking our thoughts captive, as God says to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

This is another blindness, not towards what God is doing, but in relation to what we are thinking!

Negative thoughts causing blindness

I experienced this type of blindness recently when I let negative thoughts overwhelm me. They caused me to lose sight of God’s word. I couldn’t see the good. I couldn’t see a positive path forward.

The story

Over the past month our daughter has had nine medical appointments in relation to her left leg, and there are two more this coming week. Attending all these appointments brought back the memories of the multiple hospital visits from her time of having chemotherapy treatment. Late last week, both my daughter and I were at the point of sighing, crying and thinking, ‘No, not another appointment,’ and ‘Will it always be like this?’ So strong is the emotional pull of old memories and feelings of despair – grief.

For our daughter during recent years the negative experiences around these ongoing appointments have been offset by the joy and excitement of swimming training and competing at sporting events. But due to COVID-19 restrictions and other factors beyond our control, those activities are currently not happening. So, the question she now often asks is, ‘What is there to look forward to?’

What is there to look forward to?

What is there to look forward to? Yes, blindness can stop us looking forward and it can stop us looking to Jesus.

The blind beggar

These thoughts about blindness led me to reading the story of Jesus healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus, recounted in Mark 10 and Luke 18.

Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, a son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]! And many severely censured and reproved him, telling him to keep still, but he kept on shouting out all the more, You Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]!”

And Jesus stopped and said, Call him. And they called the blind man, telling him, Take courage! Get up! He is calling you.

And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, What do you want Me to do for you? And the blind man said to Him, Master, let me receive my sight.

And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has healed you. And at once he receive his sight and accompanied Jesus on the road.
Mark 10:46-52 AMPC

What did God speak to you about as we read that story? For me, there were four things which I share below. But first, lets give thanks for the revelation God brings to us through His word. Remember Proverbs 29:18 that we read earlier,

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

Keep asking. Don’t give up

Firstly, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus not once, but twice. He didn’t give up. Interestingly when this story is recounted in Luke, earlier in Chapter 18, Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer, saying,

Don’t you know that God, the true judge, will grant justice to all of his chosen ones who cry out to him night and day? He will pour out his Spirit upon them. He will not delay to answer you and give you what you ask for. God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up. So be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge. Luke 18:7-8a TPT

Jesus finishes this teaching about prayer with this question, a challenge to me and you …

Yet when the Son of Man comes back, will he find this kind of persistent faithfulness in his people? Luke 18:8b TPT

Revelation (or reminder)

Keep calling out to Jesus. Let’s be people of persistent faith.

Courage to respond

Secondly, when Jesus responded to the blind beggar’s call, it appears from the disciple’s words that Bartimaeus was a little hesitant to go to Jesus.

So they went to the blind man and said, “Have courage! Get up! Jesus is calling for you!” Mark 10:49 TPT

As we know Bartimaeus did muster the courage, get up and go to Jesus. Imagine if he hadn’t. He would have missed that opportunity to receive healing.

The Message Bible says,

They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Mark 10:49 The Message

His lucky day indeed!

Revelation (or reminder)

Sometimes it takes courage to respond to what Jesus asks us to do, but that is part of the faith adventure.

Note: there is a great song that reminds me to take courage: Take Courage by Kristine DiMarco.

Throw off the old cloak

Thirdly, look what Bartimeaus did when he responded to Jesus …

And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and came to Jesus. Luke 10:50 AMPC

It seems like, that to get up, Bartimeaus had to throw off something – his outer garment. The Passion Translation says,

So he threw off his beggars’ cloak, jumped up, and made his way to Jesus. Luke 10:50 TPT

He had to throw off the cloak that represented his old life, before he could receive the new life Jesus had for him.

Revelation (or reminder)

This was one of the main points of the story God wanted me to understand. I had to throw off the old memories of years of medical appointments. I had to take those thoughts captive and remind myself that we are in a new season now. This is not the past. God is doing a new thing. Some serious talk to self, declaring God’s truth and promises was required. For both me, but for our daughter.

Confidence in Jesus’ power

Finally, Bartimaeus had confidence that Jesus could make him well.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith [and confident trust in My power] has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Jesus on the road. Mark 10:52 AMP

So a question for us, “Who or what are we putting our confidence in today?”

Revelation (or reminder)

There is only one answer -> Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6 NKJV

The Blindness and Jesus

So just remember to keep a look out for blindness in your life. The blindness of busy-ness can cause us to miss seeing what God is doing in our lives. The blindness of negative thinking can stop us looking to Jesus, the One we need to have our confidence in.

The importance of confidence in Jesus

Three final thoughts on the importance of confidence in Jesus, and accompanying scripture, because remember what the Amplified Bible says in Proverbs 29:18.

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

1. We need to have confidence that with Jesus we can do all things.

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfil His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13 AMP

2. We need to have confidence that with Jesus we can more than overcome.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NKJV

3. And when we can’t find that confidence, we need to remember.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 NIV

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

Jesus does the unexpected

It is always worth taking the time to read The Bible. God constantly wants to show us something. Earlier this week I was reading about Jesus feeding the five thousand in Matthew 14:13-21. As I was reading God reminded me that often Jesus does the unexpected. Let’s take a look at the story.

Getting bad news

Jesus has just heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, has been beheaded, thanks to King Herod. Jesus is obviously upset by this news and seeks out some time alone.

When Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there privately in a boat to a solitary place. Matthew 14:13a AMPC.

I don’t know about you, but for me, when I hear some devastating news, I want to be by myself to process what I’ve just heard. I remember those first couple of days after Victoria was diagnosed with a brain tumour. In the hospital I’d often escape to a small room attached to the Ronald McDonald Family Room, and spent a lot of time there crying and praying. It was called ‘The Quiet Room.’ I was very grateful for that space.

But Jesus didn’t have the luxury of that quiet processing space. Everyone wanted to see Him and speak with Him.

But when the crowds heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. Matthew 14:13b AMP.

No time to process the grief

The story goes on …

So when Jesus landed he had a huge crowd waiting for him. Seeing so many people, his heart was deeply moved with compassion toward them, so he healed all the sick who were in the crowd. Matthew 14:14 TPT

Jesus barely had any time alone to start processing the grief of losing someone He loved, but He doesn’t appear to be bothered by it. Jesus does the unexpected. He continues to give practically to the people, meeting their needs. This is a wonderful example of Jesus’ capacity to love others when He is in suffering.

John Maxwell says an interesting thing about Jesus’ actions,

“One of the greatest remedies for our own suffering is serving others. Servant-leadership becomes a solution for both the one serving and the one being served.” (The John Maxwell Leadership Bible, Page 1198)

After Jesus had healed many people, the disciples thought it was time for the crowds to go so Jesus’ could have some space and rest.

Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper. Matthew 14:15 The Message

The crowd is still on His mind

But Jesus still has the crowd on His mind, and is ready once again to do the unexpected.

“They don’t need to leave,” Jesus responded. “You can give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16 TPT

The disciples are a little perplexed as they know they don’t have enough food to feed the people, which we find out later in the story numbered more than 5000.

And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” Matthew 14:17 NKJV

The disciples, probably like me if I was in that situation, could only see what they had in the ‘natural.’ But Jesus saw the potential in the supernatural.

Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their full. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed. Matthew 14:18-21 TPT

Jesus does the unexpected

Jesus does the unexpected. He feeds more than five thousand people from the starting ingredients of five loaves of bread and two fish.

How?

I don’t really know, other than what the Scriptures tell us:

He looked up to heaven (showing His complete reliance on His Father – God).

Note; The Chosen a historical series, beautifully depicts Jesus looking up to heaven before He does a miracle.

He gave thanks to God (acknowledged that everything He has comes from The Father).

He broke the bread into pieces (Jesus took action with what was in His hand)

Jesus is still doing the unexpected today

Jesus does the unexpected in how He provides food the five thousand. He is still doing the unexpected today in our lives, especially in this season of living with COVID-19.

For example, lets take a look at one of the things God values most, relationships. In my world, since the arrival of COVID-19, I have seen and experienced relationships that have deepened through shared experiences; relationships that have been restored as priorities shifted, and relationships that have become more authentic as pain surfaced and is processed. Jesus has done the unexpected. Once again.

What have you seen Jesus do, unexpectedly, in your world in this season?

Lets continue to keep our eyes on Jesus, trusting that He will carry on doing the unexpected, with provision, healing and restoration.

I’ll finish with these lyrics from Hillsong United’s Song, Shadow Step.

In every way, You never fail
So have Your way, here God
And I’ll sing Your praise
Fix my heart to Yours
Ready for the unexpected
Ready for what you will do next

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

It’s a good day for Christmas Carols!

This morning I felt to listen to some Christmas carols – yes it is June! Why not? Mary’s Boy Child/Oh my Lord by Boney M; Emmanuel by Hillsong; Mary did you know? sung by Hayley Westerna, Breath of Heaven sung by Amy Grant ….

Christmas Carols remind me of the gift that Jesus is to us. Not a gift that has you thinking – really? why did you give me that? Not a gift that once consumed is gone forever (like chocolate!). Not a gift that goes out of fashion #nottrendinganymore. No, Jesus is a forever gift. The gift that truly does keep on giving, here on earth and in eternity. He is the gift of salvation.

And what did we do to deserve this gift? Absolutely nothing!

For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! Ephesians 2:8 TPT

How open are we to receiving the complete gift of Jesus? Forgiveness, acceptance, perfect love, joy, strength, peace, freedom, wisdom, healing and assurance of eternal life.

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of hearing people’s stories of the freedom that Jesus has given them, freedom from situations that were meant to destroy them. Freedom that can only come from One who loves unconditionally and has the authority to say ….

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 NKJV

Jesus. The gift. For you. For me. The only way to fully live. So we can fully give to others and do what God has called us to do.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 TPT

Today, let’s ask Jesus three things, firstly, to show us where in our lives we are not fully receiving all He has done for us. Secondly to show us what we need to do to receive that freedom. And thirdly show us how we use that freedom to be His ambassadors in this world.

Some days we just feel sad

Some days we just feel sad. Recently I had one of those days. There were many reasons, a funeral the day before; a conversation that left me wondering once again about this world that we live in; an ANZAC day ceremony that gave pause for thought about the sacrifices so many young people made; and a movie that reminded me of the crucial role parents play in their children’s lives.

There was a heaviness that I had not felt for a long time. And it was difficult to shake. I was having a constant conversation with Jesus, telling Him how sad I was feeling, knowing that He would understand.

As the afternoon progressed, and we enjoyed a beautiful few hours with friends out on the glorious Lake Macquarie, the conversation and laughter ministered to my soul. Along with the appreciation of how blessed we are to live here, in this country.

Home again, and the heaviness started to return. What an effort to prepare dinner for the family, I really just wanted to crawl into bed, and rest for a new day. It took every ounce of emotional strength to put the meal together and gather the family to sit at the table for dinner.

But as we did gather and eat, the most amazing things happened. Firstly there was reasonable conversation for more than five minutes (very unusual for us); then there was some serious discussion about the business of providing for a family; then there was an outpouring of emotion prompted by the funeral we had attended; then prayer with everyone thanking God for whatever was on their heart; and finally a family game of Scrabble that lasted for at least an hour. The heaviness had gone. Hope restored. Thank you Jesus.

So much in that little story …. sadness, heaviness, talking to Jesus, the power of friendship, pushing through, setting the table, tears and the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. He is there in the midst, we need to keep our focus on him.

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! Hebrews 12:2 TPT

The culture is changing but Jesus is the same

I was reading a news article the other day and it included the phrase ‘post Christian Culture’. And I immediately thought about Hebrews 13:8 ..

Jesus, the Anointed One, is always the same – yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 TPT

How does the truth of Hebrews 13:8 reconcile with a ‘post Christian Culture’?

The culture in this country is changing, but Jesus isn’t changing.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NKJV

What Jesus did for each of us almost 2000 years ago, does not change. His act of sacrifice does not disappear just because the culture is changing.

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes], and forever (to the ages). Hebrews 13:8 AMPC

We may not be consistent in how we live our lives, but Jesus is.

We may not always know who we are and what our purpose here is, but Jesus knew exactly why He was on earth and what His purpose here was.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 NKJV

Our Heavenly Father wanted us back with Him. But God is Holy and we were full of sin.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NKJV

Someone needed to stand in the gap. Someone who was perfect, without sin. Only Jesus, the son of God, could do that. The Jesus that is still perfect today, unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! Hebrews 13:8 CEB.

The Jesus that we still need today, tomorrow and forever because we make mistakes and we live in a world where the culture is changing. We need to be a walking expression of His love in this place.

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:
Joy that overflows,
peace that subdues,
patience that endures,
kindness in action,
a life full of virtue,
faith that prevails,
gentleness of heart, and
strength of spirit.
Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.
Galatians 5:22-23 TPT

And we cannot be that walking expression of His love without His transforming power, as Paul says in his letter to the Galatians …

My only boast is in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, our Messiah. In him I have been crucified to this natural realm; and the natural realm is dead to me and no longer dominates my life…The only thing that really matters is living by the transforming power of this wonderful new creation life. Galatians 6:14,15 TPT

Let’s pray,

Jesus, thank you that in a world that is changing, you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you for what you did for us all those years ago on The Cross, an act of love for all time, regardless of the culture. Thank you Jesus for your grace and mercy in our lives. Please help us to be a walking expression of your love in this place. In your name we pray, Amen.