Posts tagged Belief
Reaching for Him {Nameless}
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And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “if I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone out of Him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” . . . But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” – Mark 5: 24-34

 

There are parts of me that can sympathize with the bleeding woman. When you’re a 30-something trying to responsibly treat chronic anxiety, finding a doctor who really listens can be difficult and tiring. And while I was never physically worse in the midst of my search for it, I felt emotionally worn every time a name brand med, with a long list of side effects, was suggested. I just want to feel better, I would cry out to Jesus. I’ll be frank – I still cry this out – even after finding an amazing doctor who listened to my concerns, there are still days I want stronger medicine or a supernatural cure. 

We live in a broken world, which means physical, emotional, and mental ailments are a reality we weren’t ever supposed to know, but which we inevitably endure. I imagine myself as the woman who bled for years, frantic in her search to get just one look at He who was miraculously healing. I imagine the sweat on her upper lip, moving through a crowd of people who felt their need was stronger, more immediate, than the hundreds surrounding them.

Although I sympathize with her, I also feel great divides of difference. In the height of mental illness, I’m not sure a small grasp of a garment would’ve been enough for me . . . I imagine the desire I would have, had I had physical access to Jesus like she did. I would yell through the crowds, making my voice louder than those around me – “Jesus! Jesus, I need your help! I need you to fix me.” And if I would’ve gotten time with Him face-to-face, after He would whisper to me, “you are healed,” I would chase after Him, again.

“But wait, like really? I mean – I know you’re Jesus, but is this a lifetime guarantee situation? Like how certain are You this anxiety goblin is gone for good?” 

The nameless woman in Mark, however, rests confidently in who Jesus is and of what He is capable. I just need to touch the fabric covering His body. She wasn’t drawing attention to herself, she wasn’t making her voice louder than those surrounding her, she wasn’t jumping up and down – she moved quickly and quietly to get to Him. What would the world look like if we all operated like this? Instead of drawing attention to ourselves and our personal ailments, what if we simply took them to the feet of Jesus? 

Our Jesus felt power leave His body. As the nameless woman feels herself healing, Jesus knows something has occurred.

She reached for His garment and immediately felt relief. No questions, no conversation, no wondering if this would actually hold out for the rest of her days. And let’s be honest, this whole occurrence is miraculous, but what happens next is actually my favorite . . .

Our Jesus felt power leave His body. As the nameless woman feels herself healing, Jesus knows something has occurred. He could’ve kept walking – I’m sure He was being touched and grabbed at in every direction, but He stopped. He looked at His guys and said, “Who touched me?”

This is who Jesus is, sisters. He feels our need for Him, even as the needs of hundreds of others surround Him.

She comes forward then, frightened at being found out, possibly feeling guilty for not greeting Him formally before seeking restoration. And then He utters words we all long for. Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed from your disease. (v34)

Ya’ll, we do not need fancy jobs or expensive cars to be known by Jesus. We do not need to set out a red carpet or parade for Him to heal and restore. It doesn’t matter to Him if we are overweight, underweight, or never manage to brush our hair before leaving the house. He will take us single, divorced, confused, and broken – because He does not care about labels. To the world, she will only ever be known as the Bleeding Woman – nameless to anyone who reads the Gospels.

But to Jesus? She is His child.

And her circumstances may be unlike than yours today, but our stories aren’t all that different – she was a human, with ailments, in need of recovery. She felt unseen, unknown, and desperate for relief. So, she sought the One who rights all wrongs, trusted that when He said, “you are not hidden,” He certainly meant it, and reached for Him in her time of need. 

He knows you, right this moment, and what you need, just like He knew her, right that moment, and what she needed. And He will provide.

 
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Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.

Leading by Paul’s Example {DWITW 365}
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I am a small group facilitator at my church. While it sounds like it just means I lead the group through the lessons, it really takes on a much deeper meaning. My co-facilitators are a couple from my church, and we spend a great deal of time in discussion & prayer for our group. We want to ensure that we are speaking God’s truth over their lives, that we are listening to His guidance and inspiring proper behaviors.

The small group consists of a wide variety of backgrounds, personalities, and faith levels. Some have church backgrounds that did not lead to a relationship with Christ, some came to church and went away, and some have been walking with God for years and are quite solid. As Paul states in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 this group exhibits the sentiment that “the love [they] all have for one another is increasing” - this group has referred to themselves as a family since day one.

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his poweR
-2 tHESSALONIANS 1:11

We often find ourselves discussing the various aspects of the lives of the people among our group. As facilitators, we attempt to guide the group into Christ-centered behaviors. We encourage seeking God amid the storms they face. This reminds me of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. He encourages them to stay the course in 1 Thess. ch. 1 by reminding them of their previous examples in the faith (Paul, Silas & Timothy). Paul states that he and his ministry colleagues continually thank God for them, for their faithfulness. In 1 Thessalonians ch. 3, Timothy brought the good report back to Paul regarding the church at Thessalonica’s faithful love. Each of these is a precious example of the church loving on one another. Why? So that they may be brought to a place of security and trust in each other and in Christ.

We, too, have opportunities to encourage or breakdown one another through a newer avenue - social media. Following Paul’s example, rather than hiding behind the anonymity of the screens, we should find the beauty within others. We should be available to others in their times of need and be guiding them back to the Word of God for hope and instruction. As in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, we need to pray constantly for those within our influence, whether that be children, siblings, friends, or small groups we are leading.  The Word of God does not return void, seeking the truth from God changes us. We begin to lose the sense of despair that hovers over us like a storm cloud. Instead we see the light of God, bringing hope to what may otherwise be a dark situation. We must remember that God uses all our experiences for His good, allows us to see these moments as just that, a moment in time. We can encourage our believing family to trust that God’s plans always prevail. As people see this time and time again throughout their lives, their mindset can begin to shift from reacting with desperation to responding with “God’s got this, He and only He will carry me through this and every day.” This begins to radiate out from us. Our authenticity to God’s faithfulness to us begins to make others around us question how we can possibly maintain such a spirit of courage during trials and tribulations. When we are able to proclaim “God is good” in any given scenario, those words place a seed of hope amongst anyone in earshot or readership.

I find my role as a facilitator both rewarding and challenging. As someone who has walked my share of fires, without always seeking the Word of God before I bury my face under the covers for a few weeks, I try to encourage the group to spend time in God’s Word, worship, praise and pray as their knee-jerk responses. I know first hand how these habits are truly the best path that God has given us to walk through any fire. However, as the precious people in my life continue through their lives, both beautiful and difficult, many are overwhelmed and easily resort to the comfortable habitual ways of coping. I find myself battling their logic and reasons for not seeking Christ, for not having time, energy, or motivation. While I was once that girl, I now want to jump up on top of my chair and shout “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!! THIS WORKS!! GOD IS THE ANSWER!!” As their teacher, I want to see revelation and change in their lives. I don’t want to see the enemy continue to defeat what God is trying so hard to reveal to them.

The Word of God does not return void, seeking the truth from God changes us

But I’ve learned that beating people over the head with my Bible is not the answer to changing their habits. This only causes them to feel judgment and conditional acceptance. Instead, we issue challenges to worship, to spend time in prayer, to spend time in the Word. We check in on them throughout the week, we post encouraging Scriptures and love to them in the private Facebook group. We hold them in prayer every day, praying for God’s mighty love to break the shackles of their past. We pray for their hearts to develop a desire to seek Him that is so strong, they run for their prayer closets every free minute of their days. And I listen. I listen intently to the words God gives me to share with them each week. I thank God for trusting me with their precious lives and their journeys to find a deeper relationship with Him when not so long ago, I was the girl hiding under the covers with excuses oozing out of me for why God didn’t love me or had abandoned me. I find it such an honor to be given the blessing of pouring into their lives.

I was so greatly encouraged by my reading of Paul’s letters. I was reminded that the love of God showing through us, as His heart on earth, is so powerful. I was reminded that human nature has been the same as far back as Adam and Eve. We are profoundly in need of encouragement and grace to move beyond the mistakes and the broken places within us that we believe keep God far from us. Yet in reality, those mistakes and broken places are what should drive our hearts to seek Him with a fervor - so much so that we  jump up on top of those chairs shouting for all to hear: “GOD IS THE ANSWER!!”

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Sonya Gentry wants to live in a world where being kind and loving means that when we encounter a need or brokenness, we say yes first and think about it second. This would be a world where walking with Jesus means trying to act like Jesus through loving, relevant acts of service; where Christians put their hands and feet in the dirty situations of the world in order to show people God’s love and grace; where we understand that comfort zones are meant to be broken because people need us to show up and be be the best portrayal of God’s love we can be. When she's not working, you can find her being silly with friends and family, playing games with her nephews, volunteering for various organizations and events with her church, or relaxing with a movie.