HE TOUCHES HIS ENEMIES

Lk.22:50,51 – And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

Let’s face it, none of us like to think of ourselves as God’s enemies. Nevertheless, that’s where we all started. James said to be a friend to the world is to be an enemy of God. Recognizing that is where our healing and restoration begins. Knowing our own sinfulness and hostility toward the things of the Lord reminds us of what our spiritual condition was or in some cases still is. In today’s verse we see Peter lash out at one of their enemies with a sword. An ear was cut off and fell upon the ground, Peter was rebuked, and Jesus healed the soldier’s ear right on the spot. Shocking, the touch of Jesus even effects His enemies. The lesson in this miracle? Even if you have drifted far from the Lord and you are in that enemy category there is mercy, forgiveness, and healing for you. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this scene

“He touched his ear, and healed him; fastened his ear on again, that he might not so much as go away stigmatized, though he well deserved it. Christ hereby gave them a proof, (1.) Of his power. He that could heal could destroy if he pleased, which should have obliged them in interest to submit to him. Had they returned the blow upon Peter, he would immediately have healed him; and what could not a small regiment do that had such a surgeon to it, immediately to help the sick and wounded? (2.) Of his mercy and goodness. Christ here gave an illustrious example to his own rule of doing good to them that hate us, as afterwards he did of praying for them that despitefully use us….One would have thought that this generous piece of kindness should have overcome them, that such coals, heaped on their heads, should have melted them, that they could not have bound him as a malefactor who had approved himself such a benefactor; but their hearts were hardened.”

So what condition is your soul in today? Are you like the soldier, fighting the kingdom of God? Or maybe you are like Peter, taking God’s work into your own hands. Either way, the touch of Jesus Christ changes everything.

THE MUTE SHALL SING FOR JOY

Is.35:6 -then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

The miracles of Jesus are like glimpses into man’s soul. Isaiah’s prophecy of the mute singing for joy, paints a picture for us of the amazing works of God. One example was in Mark 7, where a deaf man with a severe speech impediment was brought to Jesus. Jesus took him by the hand to a private place, put His fingers in the man’s ears and touch his tongue with saliva. In the next few moments this man’s whole being was flooded with sounds. The sounds must have sound like a magnificent orchestra of joy. How could he keep silent? He had to lift up his voice and join with the heavenly song. Here is how John Gill describes today’s verse.

“the tongue of the dumb shall sing; this had its accomplishment, in a literal sense, at the first coming of Christ, Mat 9:32, Mat 12:22 and, in a spiritual sense, in many who before had nothing to say to God in prayer, nor in praise; nothing to say of Christ, or for him; or of the blessed Spirit, and his divine operations; but now, by divine grace, are made to speak unto God, both in a petitionary way, and in a way of thankfulness; and of Christ, and of the blessed Spirit; and of the great things each have done for them; and even to sing for joy, because of the wondrous blessings of grace they were made partakers of; and many more such there will be in the latter day, when the Spirit is poured down from on high.”

All of us spent most of our lives deaf to the song of the Lord that constantly fills our world with His song of joy. Even those of us that have walked with the Lord for a time may find our hearing dull and the song far away if not non-existent. Allowing Jesus to draw us aside Himself is essential for us to recapture the song. When He puts His hand on us we can here the song of heaven flooding us with His joy once again. What is our response. Like the mute in Isaiah’s prophesy we too have to sing for joy.

THE BLESSING OF THE SECOND TOUCH

Mk.8:17,18 – But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?

This conversation with His disciples took place between two miracles where we see Jesus using very personal and unusual measures. In Mk. 7:31-37 Jesus healed a deaf man. The method Jesus used was very personal, so personal as to be quite embarrassing. First, He physically led the deaf man away from the crowd, implying personal touch. Next, Jesus put His finger into the man’s ears. Then, He spat and touched the man’s tongue with His spittle. In Mk. 8:22-26 we see Jesus ministering to a blind man. His tactics were strangely similar. He grabbed the man by the hand and led him outside of the village. Then Jesus actually spat on his eyes and laid His hands on him. Partial healing occurred and then Jesus laid His hands on him again.

The message of these miracles is one and the same for His disciples. Here is an explanation from the ESV Study Bible.

“The disciples’ hearts are still partially closed to the depth of Jesus’ teaching and person, for he asks if they do not yet perceive or understand. Although Jesus does not rebuke them as hard-hearted “hypocrites” like the Pharisees and scribes (7:6), they still lack full understanding of who Jesus is. While the Pharisees reject Jesus’ teaching outright, the disciples are slow to appreciate it. The figurative reference to eyes and ears echoes the healings of the deaf man (7:31–35) and the blind man (8:22–26). Jesus wants to open the “ears” and “eyes” of the disciples’ hearts.”

Specifically what was the message of the healings? First, get out of the influence of your old “village”, come out of the world. Next, allow Jesus to move in close, maybe closer than you are comfortable with. Also, don’t shrink back from His unusual tactics. Obviously the spit and the touching is about as close as someone can get to us. This closeness is where we receive His impartation. The disciples had seen many miracles and heard great teachings from being with Jesus. Even with all of that, their vision and ability to hear Christ was clouded. They too saw the spiritual world as trees walking. Jesus was drawing them in closer that they could understand who He was and the powerful message of the cross.

I Press In

Brandy Monnerjahn

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:46

 

We all want to be touched by God but many stand in service week after week wondering, “When, when is God going to come and touch me?” I can remember being one of those people. I stood watching others get touch and wondered, “When would it be my turn?” “When would God come and touch me?” One day as I sat in service, the guest speaker began to teach on the woman with the issue of blood. He talked about the crowd surrounding Jesus and how they were all pressing in to receive something from Him. Then he began to speak of her desperation. She was painfully conscious of her need for a touch. A feeling of desperation began to pound in my chest. I knew that there was a desire in my heart to be touched but God always seemed to be passing me by. Then the Lord began to speak, “She pressed in.” The woman with the issue of blood acknowledged her need and acted. I had sat in service after service waiting for a touch but had I never taken action? Had I ever pressed through and touched Him instead of waiting for Him to touch me. Matthew Henry states, “A poor woman applied herself to Christ, and received mercy from him by the way. If we do but touch, as it were, the hem of Christ’s garment by living faith, our worst evils will be healed;” I needed to apply myself. I needed to push through my crowded flesh and reach out for Him. I began to take steps to touch Him. I spent my morning bible time reading about people who were desperate for a touch; Zacchaeus climbed a tree, Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, a woman who was not to be in a public place pushed through a crowd. I stood in every prayer line not wondering when He would touch me but excited about when I would get the opportunity to touch Him. My walk became less about why He hadn’t touched me and more about what I was willing to do to touch Him. That moment in my life has made all the difference. When I feel far away from Him, I know He hasn’t moved so I begin to shake myself until I reach the hem of His garment. I deliberately touch Him and His power consumes every inch of my doubt.

HAPPY

Phil.3:8 – More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

This verse gets to the very heart of life, the pursuit of happiness. That basic motive in everyone’s heart is often that huge elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there but no one would ever acknowledge it. That is except for Paul, he had been chasing that elusive elephant all his life. If you still don’t know what I am talking about let me be really specific; all humans are directed, motivated, and empowered in the pursuit of happiness as the basic drive of their life. Many are not even aware that this is what motivates them but it is always present. Paul is saying he found out why that desire for happiness is the common denominator in everyone’s life. The businessman in pursuit of success is pursuing happiness. The athlete in pursuit of a championship is after the happiness that would bring. Even the prostitute in her humiliation is looking for happiness at what lies after the next trick. Drug addicts, alcoholics, policemen, and politicians (and preachers too) are looking for happiness they hope their choices will bring. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“Young people commonly seek pleasure in company, and oftentimes spend much of their time in mirth among their companions; but none have such delightful company as those that live in the exercise of religion, and virtue, and holiness, for they have their conversation in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ has become a friend and companion. Oftentimes when they are alone and seem to the world to spend their time solitarily, they indeed have company enough. It is their delight to withdraw from all the world, the more freely and intimately to converse with Jesus Christ…. The Father and the Son come to seek young people and walk and make their abode with them, and manifest themselves to them. They have an intercourse with heaven by meditation, and prayer, and other duties of religion. They with a spiritual eye do see Christ, and have access to him to converse; and Christ by his spirit communicates himself to them, so that there is a spiritual converse between them and Christ Jesus. And must not this needs be the pleasantest and the happiest company?”

Edwards spoke about young people in their pursuit of happiness among friends. Edwards said that even the youth could find their greatest happiness in the pursuit of the Lord. So Paul and Edwards came to the same conclusion, ultimate happiness is found in Christ alone.

PAUL’S ONE THING

Phil.3:13,14 – Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Today’s verse in Philippians always reminded me of David when he said, “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Like David, Paul too had been captured by this “one thing”. David saw this beauty in the tabernacle in his times of extravagant worship, Paul had been captured by beauty on his journey to Damascus when He saw Jesus for Himself. In a moment he was changed from a profane man into a worshiper. The encounter with Christ was so stunning that it changed the focus of everything in Paul’s life for the rest of his life. Rather than breathing out curses he was breathing out the praises of the Lord. Here are some beautiful thoughts from Daniel Wilcox who lived in 1676-1733.

“O my soul, what sights have I seen in the house of God! what provisions have I tasted! what entertainments have I had! what enlargements in prayer, and answers thereto! what impression under his word, what entertainment at his table, as he has sometimes brought me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me has been love! And though I cannot, it may be, say so much of this as some others; yet what I have found, I cannot but remember with thankfulness, and desire more; and as this was in the house of God, here would I still desire to dwell.”

What insights, what provisions, what enlargements in prayer, what impressions from His word, and what entertainments at His table; these can only be the words of someone who had tasted of the ‘one thing’. This ‘one thing’ is bigger than our enemies, more powerful than sickness, greater than our debt, and stronger than death. This is the one thing we dare not live our life without. Maybe you could never imagine yourself satisfied with this kind of radical spiritual life. It only seems radical because of your perspective. There is no way to imagine beauty without prior experience, it must be seen. So don’t be too surprised if you are ambushed like Paul was, being ambushed by beauty is absolutely irreversible.

TO KNOW HIM

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Do you know Jesus? That is a common phrase heard amongst evangelical believers. The problem with this is it is easily misunderstood. What does it mean to know Jesus? Does it mean have you answered an altar call, or prayed the prayer ? Or does it mean you have answered the question right when you are asked are you going to heaven when you die? Paul talked about “knowing” Jesus in today’s verse. For Him it wasn’t a casual statement or something that happened once upon a time, it was a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord that was increasing throughout his life. It wasn’t an add on in his life, for Paul knowing Christ was his life. Paul said that to know Christ was the most valuable possession that he owned and the very pursuit of all his energy. His ministry seemed to be an overflow of his pursuit. Here is how Steven Fry describes Paul’s statement.

“From a prison cell in Rome, Paul pens this personal letter in which he comes to terms with an accomplished past and a confining present. After his past as a persecutor of God’s people and through his “superior” religious activities as a Pharisee, Paul came to the liberating conclusion that all is rubbish compared to knowing the Lord! Freed from the stagnation of yesterday’s victories and the emotional paralysis of yesterday’s mistakes, Paul knew that the only thing that ultimately counted was knowing the Lord and being obedient to His will. Not only was his past subsumed by this singular passion, his present imprisonment could not snatch from him the joy of knowing Christ. Prison chains could not keep him from pursuing God, nor dull his effectiveness in ministry. Paul’s desire to know Christ sprang from no other motive but to enjoy Him. He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, not his own. He was a lover of God, not a user of God.”

I love that statement, He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake. So let me ask that question once again, do you know Jesus? Do you know Him as your passion, your goal in life and your friend? Answering this question is where life begins.

THE UNLIKELY EVANGELIST

Jn.4:39 – And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.

The woman at the well in Samaria seemed the least likely candidate to be an evangelist. She was more likely to die an early, soon to be forgotten death. She was far too well known amongst the men of that village, she was especially hated by the women. Who knows the damage this home-wrecker had inflicted on her home town. A preacher, an evangelist, unthinkable. That all changed the day Jesus stopped for a drink at Jacob’s well. All it took was one conversation and this woman’s life was unalterably changed. Jesus had operated on her soul, the results were undeniable. Rather than hiding in the shadows, this woman of Samaria began to share the story of her life change to whoever would listen. She had drunk the living water Jesus had spoken of, the results were undeniable. Here are some thoughts from Barclay on this unlikely evangelist.

“There was introduction. The Samaritans were introduced to Christ by the woman….

It is at once our precious privilege and our terrible responsibility to bring men to Christ. The introduction cannot be made unless there is a man to make it.

Further, that introduction is made on the strength of personal witness. The cry of the Samaritan woman was: ‘Look what he has done for me and to me.’ It was not to a theory that she called her neighbors; it was to a dynamic and changing power. The church can expand until the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Lord only when men and women themselves experience the power of Christ, and then transmit that experience to others.”

So maybe she was the unlikely evangelist to people who knew her, she was the perfect choice for the Lord. Why would He trust His most precious message to unscrupulous people like this former adulteress? Surely He could have found a better choice. No this was His choice because He was all about His glory, imperfect vessels carrying the most precious substance, this is how God glorifies His grace. Those who knew the woman knew her imperfections, now they saw the power of the gospel displayed in her life. Maybe you will be the next unlikely evangelist.

THE SHOCKING WORK OF GOD

Mk.5:15 – They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.

I have been attracted to the Great Awakening for many years now. This awakening was closely connected to the birth of our nation in 1776, maybe it will be connected to this season we are currently in. We need another national awakening desperately. Jonathan Edwards and his congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts were closely connected to the birth of the Great Awakening. His account of its beginning told of some shocking conversions. Here is one of those accounts.

“And then it was in the latter part of December that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work among us; so that there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons that were to all appearance savingly converted; and some of them wrought upon in a remarkable manner. Among these, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman that had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town, in whom there appeared evident a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; a new and truly broken, sanctified heart. Yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have on others, and was ready to conclude (though too rashly) that some would be hardened by it in carelessness and looseness of life, and would take occasion to reproach religion; but the event was the reverse to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening others, of anything that ever came to pass in the town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many. The news of it seemed as a flash of lightning upon the hearts, both of young people and others… The noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder. All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was thrown by. All the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only; except so much as was necessary for people’s carrying on their ordinary secular business.”

The woman who was a “company keeper” was probably the least likely candidate in Northampton to be a catalyst for revival. Her life was scandalous but the grace of God apparently made her conversion a sign and a wonder to her town. Who knows, maybe you too can become a sign and wonder to upend your community. What does it take? A life touched by God is where it all starts. From there, it seems to spread like a fire in a dry land. Before long, your whole community can become a raging fire.

THE ETERNAL IMPRINT

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Gen. 32:30
Jacob was never the same, after he left the presence of the angel. He had an encounter with God. His “wrestling with God” in Genesis 32 would lead to great blessing, but that blessing literally marked him for the rest of his life. To be touched by God leaves an eternal imprint on our lives. To be touched by God changes the way we walk. It changes the way we talk; the way we think; the way we do business; the way we deal with our families; the way we handle our relationships; it changes everything about us. God’s touch leaves a lasting imprint!

John Piper prayed this, “I love that touch. I want it more and more. For myself and for all of you. I pray that God would touch me anew for his glory. I pray that he would touch us all. O for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it. O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash.”

The word “touched” means “to lay the hand upon” –. Here it simply means divine influence. When we are touched, we have soundness of character and begins to free us from all our hang-ups and fears that have kept our voice silent. You cannot know the forgiveness of Christ until you have been declared not guilty. You cannot be set free from the deadness of sin until you accept the new life Christ offers to you. You cannot receive and understand the voice of the Spirit speaking to you until God touches your life.

Francis Frangipane said, “If we will study the life of Moses, we see how he sought God and lived in fellowship with Him. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Notice that “everyone who sought the Lord would go out.” — Exodus 33:7 If we are going to truly seek the Lord, we must “go out,” as did Moses and those who sought the Lord. We must pitch our tent “a good distance from the camp.” What camp is this? For Moses, as well as for us, it is the camp of familiarity. Because He knew that our human nature is unconsciously governed by the influences of the familiar. If He is to expand us to receive the eternal, He must rescue us from the limitations of the temporal.”

Get out of your comfort zone, and let the hand of God put His Eternal imprint on you!