Good morning everyone!  I hope your week is going well and that your are coming closer to Christ each day.

This past weekend, the lectionary pointed us to the Gospel of Mark, in the story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus: ( Mark 10:46-52)

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him,“Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

There were many ways to preach this passage, but what spoke to me this week was Jesus asking Bartimeaus, “what do you want me to do for you?”   This was the same question that Jesus asked James and John in Mark: 10:36.  James and John were concerned with positions of prestige and power (sitting at Jesus’ left and right hand).  Bartimeaus wanted something much more practical; he wanted to be able to see.

So, the question becomes, “what do you want Jesus to do for you?”  Do you want Him to lift you to a place of power and prestige like James and John (glorifying you), or do you want something much more practical like seeing?

I asked my congregations this week, “What do you want Jesus to do for you?”  Some of the responses were:

“Make me a better person.”  “Help me to be a better listener.”  “Forgive me.”  “Peace.”  “Assure me that I’m going to heaven.” “Heal me physically.” “Heal my loved ones.”

So, what is is that you want Jesus to do for you?  Do you want Him to do something that glorifies yourself, or glorifies Him? 

 

Pray: Holy Lord, we all want you do to something for us.  We yearn; we long for you to help us in our lives.  Please let our motivations be pure.

 

Today I would like to share with you a devotional from Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, from his book, “This day with the Master.”

“I had been a Christian about six years when I realized a substantial portion of my ambition was permeated by by pride.  I had my own ideas about what success in the ministry ought to be like, and the Lord confronted me about it.  He asked, ” are you willing to let me take your life and spend it any way I please?”  “What are you going to do with it?” I asked him.

Quietly he responded, “You don’t trust me, do you?”

“Well, it is not that I don’t trust you, but it would be helpful if you would tell me what you plan to do with my life.”

“No, I am not going to tell you my plans.  You will never know full freedom until you can look me in the face and say, ‘God, you can do what  you please with me.'”

And so I tried to  look him in the face and give him my full self.  “What is that on the corner of your life?” he asked.

“That is my thumb. Can’t I keep one finger on my life?”

“No, if you are going to turn it loose, you have to take all the fingers off.”

I tried to remove the finger from my life, and I found that I could not.  You see, it is only by his grace that we are ever set free.  Finally, I looked up and said, “God, can you take that finger off?”

“If you will let me crack it hard enough and long enough, I can.”

“Well, start cracking,” I said, terrified.  At that point I quit kneeling and found myself flat on my face before God.  Slowly, he began to set me free.

There is power in the Cross that can set us free from the tyranny of self-interest that either controls or contaminates our lives.  If we let him set us free, we can relax and rest in him—no longer drive to strive for what we desire for ourselves.  We will find that his desires become ours.  That oneness is the real freedom.”

 

Pray: Holy Lord, please crack my fingers long enough and hard enough to take them all off of our lives.

 

 

“As you meditate on this wondrous salvation and seek full fellowship with the great and holy God, and wait on Him to reveal Christ in you, you will feel how needful the giving up of all of is to receive Him.  Seek grace to know what it means to live as wholly for God as Christ did.  Only the Holy Spirit Himself can teach you what an entire yielding of the whole life to God can mean.  Wait on God to show you in this what you do not know.  Let every approach to God, and every request for fellowship with Him be accompanied by a new, very definite and entire surrender to Him to work in you.”  –Andrew Murray, “The Deeper Christian Life.”

What would it mean in your life if you lived a life wholly for God as Christ did?  That’s the goal that all Christians should be reaching for.  We must yield our wills and our lives on a moment by moment basis, and it’s only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can do this.  We want to do what the world calls us to, but He has different plans for us.  His ways are not our ways.  

For most of us, this yielding won’t happen instantaneously even quickly.  It will be a process in which we give up pieces of our lives until we are wholly yielded.

This reminds me of a devotional written by Dr. Dennis Kinlaw that I will share with you tomorrow.

Pray: Holy Spirit, please work in our lives that we may be wholly yielded to you.  That we live wholly for you as Christ did.

 

As we seek to come closer to Jesus Christ; as we progress toward being restored to His image, many times we find ourselves trying to do this in our own power.  It won’t work.  We must realize our dependence on the Holy Spirit.  We may think that we have all the right answers and can do this by ourselves, but the reality is we don’t have to.  Jesus left with us the Counselor, the Holy Spirit! To help us!

Andrew Murray, in “The Deeper Christian Life,” says that “All this can only be in the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you.  Count upon Him to glorify Christ in you.  Count upon Christ to increase in you the inflowing of His Spirit.  As you wait before God to realize His presence, remember that the Holy Spirit is in you to reveal the things of Gd.  Seek in God’s presence to have the anointing of the Spirit of Christ so truly that your whole life may every moment by spiritual.”

Can you imagine living a life that every moment is spiritual?  Think of the most spirit filled moment or time in your life, and imagine living each moment like that! Wouldn’t you like to live like that?  You can.  I can.  But we have to yield our lives to the Holy Spirit.  We have to yield our wills to the Holy Spirit.  We have to stop depending on our own intelligence and abilities, and depend on Him.  Every moment.

Pray: Holy Father, please let us live our lives dependent upon the Holy Spirit and not our selves.

 

Thanks Be to God!

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

There is nothing like the awesome tired of having served God and others on an Emmaus Weekend!  Any of you that have served know what I mean.  I realize how blessed I am to be able to spend a day in rest.   Sometimes we all need to rest, and just to rest in Jesus!

I saw  the hand of God at work this weekend!  Lives were transformed, burdens were lifted and many spirits were renewed.  Thank you Koinonia Emmaus for letting this foreigner come in and be a part of your family.   Enjoy resting  in Jesus today.  I believe He would tell the team, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Blessings on all of your lives!

Pray: Holy Father, thank you for an incredible weekend of getting to know you.  Refresh us today so that we may be better prepared to serve!

Spiritual Battle

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

For those of you who have been keeping up, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for about a week.  Many times in my life, I let the things of the world get on top of me, and wander off of the path that God has laid out for me.  I don’t ever want to over-spiritualize anything, but l do feel as if I was a spiritual battle last week and I didn’t realize it soon enough.  

As we try to work toward coming closer to Jesus Christ, and as we are being restored in the image of God as seen in Jesus, we are challenging Satan.  In Ephesians 6, Paul warns: ”  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.  Therefore, put on the  full armor of God, so that when the day comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In  addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Spiritual battle is as real today as it has ever been, and we need to be prepared for it.  Satan does not want us to become what God calls us to, and will put all types of things in our paths to keep us from it.  He knows our weak spots and exploits them.  Be prepared.  Expect the attack.

Pray:  Holy Lord, prepare us for the battle that is to come!

A God without limits

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

I want to take today and diverge a bit from the normal blog and speak from my own angst today.  Sometimes I don’t live out that we serve a God without limits, and start worrying.  We serve a might God, who can do more than we can even imagine.  We need to imagine big!  Let’s not put limits on God and just see what He can do in our lives and in our ministries!

Pray today for our churches, our ministries, and for the persecuted Churches and Christians.

Perseverance

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

This morning was one of those mornings that just got away from me.  I had difficulty going to sleep last night which led to difficulty getting up this morning on time.  I got most of my quiet time in, but had a breakfast meeting with some brothers that I had to get to.

So what do we do when these types of things occur?  We persevere.  We get up tomorrow morning and go again.  We make some time today to make up for the time because we really need this time with God.  If you work an 8 hour day, use your lunch hour or take time when you get home, but do it.  We need fresh manna each day. We probably need it more when our day starts off poorly.

 Andrew Murray “The likeness to Christ consists chiefly in two things–the likeness of His death and resurrection, (Rom. 6:5). The death of Christ was the consummation of His humility and obedience, the entire giving up of His life to God.  In Him, we are dead to sin.  As we sink down in humility and dependence and entire surrender to God, the power of His death works in us, and we are made conformable in His death.  And so we know Him in the power of His resurrection, in the victory over sin, and all the joy and power of the risen life.  Therefore every morning, “present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead.”  He will maintain the life He gave, and bestow the grace to live as risen ones.”

Pray: Holy Lord, please help us present ourselves unto You each day, as those that are alive from the dead.  Help us to persevere when we are interrupted.

 

 

We are to be made into the image of God as shown to us in Jesus Christ.  We were created in the image of God, but in the fall, the image was marred.  As Christians we are being restored into that image. 

Andrew Murray in “The Deeper Christian Life,” tells us: “We have not only Christ’s life in us as power, and His Presence with us as a person, but we have His likeness to be wrought into us.  He is to be formed in us, so that His form or figure, His likeness, can be seen in us.  Bow down before God until you get some sense of he greatness and blessedness of the work to be carried on by God in you this day.  Say to God “Father, here I am for Thee to give as much in me of Christ’s likeness that I can receive.” And wait to hear Him say, “My child, I give thee as much of Christ as thy heart is open to receive.”  The God who revealed Jesus in the flesh and perfected Him, will reveal Him in thee and perfect thee in Him.  The Father loves the  Son, and delights to work out His image and likeness in thee.  Count upon it that this blessed work will be done in thee as thou waitest on thy God, and holdest fellowship with Him.”

As I write this morning I am convicted that I am guilty of not waiting upon God to speak to me.  How can I be formed into the image of Jesus if I rush through my time with Him?  If I am to be formed into the image of Jesus, don’t I need to take much time each day to allow God to work that out in me?  I sit here now thinking about all the things that are on my schedule for the day and then I think about the time that I have open.  How will I spend that open time?  What could I do with that time to allow God to work in me?

It all goes back to staying attached to the vine.  We can’t bear fruit unless we stay attached (John 15).  Jesus says we can’t bear fruit apart from Him.  But isn’t that exactly what we try to do?  Are we really staying attached? Are we abiding in Him?  Verse 6 of John 15 says this (remember these are the words of Jesus):

“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Jesus really wants us to abide in Him; to stay attached to Him.  It’s important!  Our relationship with Him is the most important part of our lives.  Do we give nurturing that relationship the place that it deserves in our day?  If we are be formed into the image of Jesus, we have to give our relationship more than just a few minutes each day.  A few minutes a day is a good start, but is it really enough?  This is something that we all have to work out in our own life.  Again, as I write this, God is convicting me of all the time that I just waste that I could be spending with Him.  What can you do today to give God His rightful place in your daily schedule?  

Pray:  “Holy God, convict us to make more time for you, that you might delight in working out Christ’s image and likeness in us.”