Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years approached from behind and touched the tassel on His robe, for she said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well!” But Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22)
A women who was vulnerable, weak, and devastated from a chronic health condition pursued Jesus with strength and faith. She trusted Him and leaned forward toward Him. She reached with everything she had.
I think of her often as I pursue God. No matter how I feel, do I pursue Him with a similar strength and faith? Do I stretch with everything I have to reach Him?
Jesus responds to the woman with power and sensitivity. He encourages her.
He knows our pursuit and our faith, which encourages me. I can’t physically reach out and touch Him, but I can reach Him. And He responds with power and sensitivity. Every single time.
But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
This might seem like an unsettling Scripture, but to me, it’s comforting. It reminds me that God knows my thoughts. And it challenges me, too, that He knows my thoughts!
No matter what you’re going through, no matter what you’re thinking about, God is well aware, and He’s interested. He always wants more and better for you. You can trust Him to guide. Let Him filter everything in your life, including your thoughts. You might be challenged, but you won’t be disappointed.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)
It’s difficult to walk the line of being an example for others without calling attention to yourself. We want to encourage and challenge others, but we need to do so humbly. And that’s difficult in today’s social media-saturated culture. There are so many voices screaming for everyone’s attention.
But maybe that’s not all that different from the past. Sure, the method of delivery, speed, and availability might be different, but the inundation of voices have probably been challenging in different ways through the years.
And no matter the specific challenges, humility will always be in style. Well, perhaps not in style, but a good goal to have.
Look at the nations and observe—be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it. (Habakkuk 1:5, HCSB)
When I first glanced at this, I thought “Isn’t this the case?” I thought of all the junk that goes on in our world today. It’s nothing new. Nations and people have had issues and struggles pretty much since forever. And we’re not going to solve it all.
But setting this aside for a moment, I glanced at the verse again.
You see, Habakkuk isn’t groaning about all the junk in the world. That’s not what is astounding. Another translation says, “Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told.” (NASB)
The reason for the astonishment and wonder isn’t negative, it’s positive! And what we can’t believe isn’t what people are doing but what God is doing.
Well, that changes things.
Sometimes we need to look at something again. Look at people again. Look at a situation again. Look at God again.
Sometimes people will notice a difference in you as a Christian, but they won’t completely “get it.” Because they don’t understand or relate, they’ll describe it as it makes sense to them.
The king said to David, “I’ve heard that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and extraordinary wisdom.” (Daniel 5:14)
Well, close. Not exactly “the spirit of the gods.” A few verses later, Daniel gives credit to the Most High God. He doesn’t lecture the king or openly tell him he’s wrong. He maintains respect and dignity for the king while honoring God.
We don’t have to clash in harsh disagreement with people, even when we find error. We can be more patient and gracious than that. Sure, we want to correct people, but there are ways to convey truth without demeaning someone. After all, who pays attention to the content of what someone says when that person is slapping and berating them with words? Not me.
Have (and show) more respect – for yourself, others, and God.
Sometimes God’s Word sounds outdated.
My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. They were scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them. (Ezekiel 34:6)
Yeah, yeah, whatever. So some sheep were lost. Personally, I don’t see a lot of sheep roaming around on unfenced hills. But maybe we can relate more than it seems at first glance. We can probably all agree that “my flock went astray” indicates a problem, and we’ve all had problems. We’ve all felt out of sorts, missing something that we wanted to recover. Sometimes we can put a name on it, and other times, it’s something we sense. We’re just disoriented and dissatisfied and a bit empty. We feel a bit like those astray sheep – scattered and left by ourselves without anyone searching for us.
We want help. We need help.
I Myself will search for My flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the peoples, gather them from the countries, and bring them into their own land. I will shepherd them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will tend them with good pasture, and their grazing place will be on Israel’s lofty mountains. There they will lie down in a good grazing place; they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will tend My flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice. (Ezekiel 24:11a-16)
Found feels better than lost. Fed is better than hungry. Tended feels better than overlooked. Strengthened feels better than weakened. Sought after is better than forgotten.
Maybe we can relate to Scripture more than we think at times.
When I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed. So when I tell the wicked person, “You will surely die,” but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right— he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity—he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live. But your people say, “The Lord’s way isn’t fair,” even though it is their own way that isn’t fair. (Ezekiel 33:13-17)
We cannot rest on our accomplishments or convict someone on their faults. Our good deeds and faith don’t carry us through if we abandon them, just as our offenses don’t condemn us if we turn and leave them behind. God wants ongoing, respectful relationship. But we want to be able to determine just what we can and can’t do. We want some control. We want to declare what is fair and what isn’t. And when we begin to understand that following Him isn’t about fairness, we can throw our hands up and declare God is wrong to do things His way, and people are wrong to follow and trust Him, and we’re better off without Him.
But God is beyond fair. His standards aren’t like the ones we create, where everything fits into boxes that can’t ebb and flow beyond the boundaries that comfort us the most. We like to declare, “Foul! Wrong! Good! Bad! Right!” But who are we trying to convince?
Maybe we need to be quiet long enough to let God do a little convincing of His own.