And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (John 5:5-6)
“Wilt thou be made whole?” Why would Jesus ask such a question? Of course, this man wanted healing! He had an infirmity for 38 years. Now we don’t know how old this man was, or how long he had laid by this pool, watching for a ripple of water. But we know his attention was on the water. Jesus’ question was intended to draw this man’s eyes off the superstitious water and put them on Himself. This impotent man needed to turn his eyes to the omnipotent God.
I read somewhere while studying for this post, that Jesus asked a question 307 times in the New Testament, but only gave an answer to His questions three times. God’s word should cause us to question ourselves, so that we can see our weaknesses, our lack of wisdom, our inability to measure up to God’s standard. This impotent man would never see his true condition by staring at a pool. There are many people in the same condition today, waiting, watching, yearning for some feeling, some emotion, something physical that will change their life. People are hungry for something to make their life different, perhaps not knowing what change they want, just something different; hanging their hopes on “good vibes” or maybe karma will look kindly on them. We need to follow Christ’s example here. We need to ask the lost and dying people the obvious questions to take their eyes off the false hopes the world has to offer. Wilt thou be made whole? There is no healing in the pool, but there is eternal life in Jesus Christ.
“Woe is me!” The prophet Micah laments his circumstances in the seventh chapter of his discourse to the leaders of Israel, speaking of the wickedness surrounding him. We can sympathize with Micah’s plight today. Our leaders seem to have no regard for the people. In chapter 2, Micah describes those in power as devising evil at night to practice when the morning light comes. Their greed drove them to oppress the common people without any sign of remorse. Judges required bribes for their verdicts. The rich and powerful would entangle their mischief in the courts allowing them to continue their evil ways. Sound familiar?
Micah was given the unpopular task of proclaiming God’s impending judgement on Israel. His bold witness for God was believed by a few and rejected by many. In chapter 7 Micah speaks of discord within close family members. The controversies caused by his witness surely affected his mental state. We can easily be discouraged at the mockery of God we see around us.
But Micah made a determined choice to trust God. In verses 7-8 we read; “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.” (Micah 7:7-8)
We can easily get distressed if we watch all the evil going on around us. It may seem like the whole world is against us. But like Micah, we must determine to look unto the LORD, trust Him, and allow Him to be our light in this dark world. God gives rest to the weary, strength to the down-trodden, and comfort to the brokenhearted.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
(1 Peter 3:15)
Whether you admit it or not, we all crave attention. We want people to hear what we have to say. Our society has driven many of us to sharing frivolous nonsense on social media, then agonizing over how many likes and follows we get. Going “viral” is now the ultimate excitement.
Truth is that people are watching us wherever we go. If we claim to be a follower of Christ, we are watched even closer. God calls us to be a peculiar people. Why would He do that you ask? So that people might take notice of our gratitude and praise toward God. (ref. 1 Peter 2:9).
When we attract attention for God’s glory, it awakens a curiosity in those around us. As Peter tells us in our focus verse, we must be ready to answer questions about our faith. When talking about our faith, we need to be honest. We should not try to hide our flaws or pretend that we are perfect. We need to be open about our own journey and allow others to see that we are real people who have struggles just like them.
How can we prepare ourselves for the questions? Spending time each day reading God’s word and in prayer is vital to our readiness. The most effective message you can give someone is to tell them how you came to trust in Christ. That is your witness that no one can dispute. But as the apostle Paul warns young Timothy, (ref. 2 Tim. 2:23) we must avoid getting side-tracked into foolish questions which will certainly lead to arguments and do nothing to further God’s kingdom. Always allow the Holy Spirit to guide your answers and conversations.
Allowing God to continuously transform your life through the reading of His word and in prayer will prepare you to not only be ready, but confidently await any questions about the hope within you.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
The last few weeks have been challenging. Commitments and obligations fill our days pretty quickly during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Adding to that is the serious health issues of some dear friends and family members, including my wife’s knee surgery and other things she’s going through. I’ve noticed the stress and resulting brain fog has affected my memory lately. Words and names that should come to mind quickly simply escape me at times. All these circumstances has given me plenty of excuses to keep me from writing.
I am grateful though, that when my life gets stressful, and my mind overwhelmed with circumstances, I can still trust that God is in complete control of my life. Nothing takes Him by surprise; nothing overwhelms His mind. He watches each step, arranges my circumstances, even uses my mistakes for my good.
Throughout the recent trying situations God has continued to bless us tremendously. Seems like 2022 went by in a blink but within its days and weeks there were several notable, (another word for stressful) events. I changed jobs in late 2021 and it has allowed me to work full-time from home in 2022. We watched as my grandparents old house which had stood empty for many years was sold and consequently replaced with a fast food restaurant. That stirred up sweet memories of gathering around the Formica topped dining table to enjoy Granny’s stewed beef, green beans, potatoes, and of course those wonderful homemade biscuits. My wife and I decided it was time to buy a more comfortable home as our retirement age is approaching fast. In the midst of the crazy housing market we found a house we both love so then came the stress that goes with purchasing and moving. God gave me the opportunity to teach a Bible study class again, (though I still feel so inadequate).
With all these changes it’s no wonder my head is in a fog sometimes. I always find comfort though in God’s promises. Like David, I lay down each night in peace and sleep, trusting my Savior in all things. Those days I’m at my wit’s end, those days I fall to worldly temptations, those days my faith wavers, He still holds me secure in His hand.
Now the new year is here with its new challenges. I anxiously await to see what God has in store for me next. Plans are already in the works for publishing my new book, Pondering God’s Word, sometime in 2023. If you’d like to receive updates be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter using the form on the home page.