In Mathew 4 Jesus was extremely hungry because He had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. The devil tried to take advantage of Jesus’ vulnerable state and tempted Him to turn stone into bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus responds to the devil that man should not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mathew 4:4). Notice Jesus didn’t say we should live on SOME of the word but ALL of it! Many only want to feast on the feel-good parts of the word of God; quick to get the dessert and would rather skip over the meat and potatoes so to speak. Without hesitation, we gobble down scriptures that tell us that God is going to prosper us. We push off our plates the parts that admonishes us to bear good fruit and the warnings that follow. We want to feast on passages that tells us He will protect us from our enemies, but are hesitant to eat the parts that tells us about the consequences of our sin and the fact that followers of Christ will suffer. However, to be fully nourished spiritually, we must take heed to Jesus’ statement in Mathew 4:4 and EAT all the word!
The story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 is one of my favorite bible stories. It reminds me of God’s ability to heal and the dangers of walking in pride! The passage opens by telling us that Naaman was favored by the King of Syria. He had a great position and great victories BUT he was a leper.
As the story of Naaman unfolds, we see that he not only had leprosy of the skin but leprosy of the heart. What on earth am I talking about? Naaman was angry when the Prophet Elisha didn’t come out to see him and by way of his servant, told him to go dip seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman was furious because being a man with such authority, he was expecting a more honorable greeting followed by special instructions for His healing. He received neither!
Given the severity of his situation, I would think that Naaman would have immediately obeyed instead of protesting. After all, leprosy was fatal! However, the pride in His heart made Him forget about his desperate situation. Pride has a way of blinding us from what we really need. Pride can be a deliverance snatcher! Thankfully Naaman had a wise officer who encouraged him to take heed to the instruction given by the man of God and he was healed.
What is the BUT in your life, that exception, that thorn? In other words, what is the thing that is hanging over your head that seems to overshadow all the other great things that you have going on in your life? Sometimes God allows the outward “leprosy” in our life to highlight the most fatal leprosy of all…the one in our hearts. God knows how to present scenarios in our life that brings the ugliness in our hearts to the surface so that we can be healed, delivered, and freed from pride. Have you been protesting, or have you yielded to the process so that you can be healed of spiritual leprosy?
Mathew 21:1-5 gives the account of Jesus telling the disciples to go and get a donkey and its colt and bringing them to him. This command fulfilled a prophecy given by the prophet Zechariah over 500 years earlier. Yes, 500 years later the word came to pass!!!! This reminds me that no matter how long it takes, I can be confident that the promises of God will manifest. The passing of time can cause us to second guess what God has spoken. Don’t yield to the temptation to give up on the promises because it didn’t happen when YOU thought it should happen. God is faithful
What are some promises that God has made you? How long have you been waiting? Have you given up on believing because you think it is taking too long? I want to encourage you to go and get those promises and dust them off. Begin to rehearse them because God is faithful! Don’t remain hung up on it taking too long that you miss the valuable lessons God is trying to teach you in the process of waiting.
Oftentimes we focus on our inability to give people what they are asking for. We then hesitate to pray for them. We can learn a lot from Peter and John in Acts chapter 3. They met a man who was lame from birth on their way to the prayer service at the temple. The man was placed at the entrance of the temple so he could beg for money. When the man saw Peter and John he stretched out his hand begging. Peter says to the man in Acts 3: 6 “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” He then stretches out his hand and helps the man up and the scriptures says that the man leaped up and ran off praising God! I love this account because it reminds me that while I may not have what people are asking for, I have what they need. I have Jesus. The man was asking for money, but when Peter called on the name of Jesus this man received even greater than what he asked for. He received healing. We can assume that the man was reduced to begging because he was a lame and could not work. Peter didn’t have money to give him but he prayed for the man’s healing in the name of Jesus! The money would have met a temporary need because it was not the answer to the real issue which was his need for healing. There is something about calling on the name of Jesus that answers more than the initial request. Today I encourage you to step out in boldness and offer Jesus to others. It is not about what YOU cannot do, instead, it is all about Jesus’ ability to do the impossible!
In order to maintain the proper focus, it is imperative that we understand the implications of the shed blood of Jesus. The scriptures let us know that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Our sins demanded that a price be paid. A sacrifice had to be offered to rescue us from death. In Exodus Chapter 12, we see a foreshadowing of what Jesus would ultimately do for us on the cross. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God and His shed blood is what made the forgiveness of our sins possible. So what does this mean for us today? When you plead the blood of Jesus, it is a reminder of all the blood accomplished and still continues to accomplish today. Jesus shed His blood on our behalf and this sacrifice makes victorious living 100% possible. We don’t have to take what the devil offers. We don’t have to dwell on past mistakes and live in condemnation. We don’t have to receive sickness. We don’t have to be confused in our mind. Why? Because of the blood of Jesus! His blood gives us newness of life and a new level of authority! Remember that there is still power in the blood of Jesus and it is a sure way to help you remain focused!
Scriptures for reflection
Click here to read part 1 of my Focus series. Today I will discuss how looking back when things become difficult can cause you to abort the promises of God.
It is easy to focus on the promises of God when all is going well. However when things become difficult, it is easy to begin to look back and long for the very thing God delivered you from. This was the case with the children of Israel in Numbers 14:1-4. They were on the verge of possessing the promise land and Moses sent 12 spies to take a look at the land. After 40 days of scouting out Canaan, 10 of the spies came back with a negative report. Fear got the best of them and they focused on how big their enemies were. The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb came back with a favorable report and they reminded the people that because God was on their side, they would have the victory over their enemies. Unfortunately, the Israelites chose to receive the negative report of the 10 spies and wept in fear. They began to look back and long for slavery because their present situation in the wilderness seemed too hard. Their loss of focus on the promises of God gave them a distorted vision and caused them to long to return to slavery. Seems absurd doesn’t it? But how often do we lose focus because we are in a difficult place and we begin to long for relationships or circumstances that God delivered us from. Sometimes the uncertainty of today seems so overwhelming that we forget about the promises of God and we long for a yesterday that had us bound. However we must remember that God is faithful. Don’t abort the promises He has made you by looking back!
Read Numbers chapter 14 and reflect on the following points:
Have you been looking back? Please pass this along to others who may need this reminder.