FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Defined by an Issue

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

And Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, ‘Who touched me?’”

And Jesus said, “Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

And he said unto her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48 (KJV)

I think no woman can even begin to imagine having “an issue of blood” for twelve years! Twelve months would be unbearable; twelve days alone is debilitating, but twelve years?! Try to imagine this woman’s life. The Law made it clear that unless her bleeding ceased for at least seven days, everyone and everything she touched would be deemed unclean and cursed, just as she was.

I imagine her as the subject of idle gossip and ill-intended chitchat because everyone knew about her issue. I suspect some didn’t even know her name; she was defined by her issue. And I picture her isolated, outcast, alone and lonely yearning not just for healing but for companionship and friendship.

What “issue” is defining you?

Be honest with yourself.

Do people know you as an adulterer? Do co-workers raise their eyebrows when you speak because you are a liar? Has the PTA and playground crowd tagged you as a bad mother? Is the Bridge Club whispering in the corner because you’ve been an unfaithful wife? Have your friends labeled you as wishy-washy? Or narcissistic? Maybe unreliable? Possibly bossy? Does your employer consider you incompetent? Lazy? Unproductive? Are you a troublemaker? A quitter?

Has your “issue” isolated you?

Do people avoid you, make excuses to shorten their conversations with you and always seem to have somewhere to go when you appear on the scene?  Or does shame make you keep to yourself?  Might you be afraid to show your real self because of your “issue?”

That’s how it was for Luke’s woman. For twelve years the woman in Luke’s story was identified and isolated by her issue.

Mark shares this same story in his Gospel with a few more details. A key one is found in Mark 5:27-28 (KJV) which says, “When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.’”

Therein lies the secret to our “issues.” Jesus.

The context of this story conveys another important point for us. Jesus was not alone. He was in a crowd. The woman touched Jesus, and He asked, “Who touched me?” Peter and the other disciples don’t believe their ears. “Who touched You? You have to be kidding? Who, in this crowd, didn’t touch You? People are everywhere.”

But Jesus knew there had been a special touch, a seeking touch, a believing touch, a power-filled touch. Jesus knew the woman needed a touch, and He knew the exact moment when she had touched His garment.

And He knows that you need His touch as well!

Make note of three quick points. Jesus asks, “Who touched me” then, according to Mark, “looked round about to see her that had done this thing.” This woman had broken the Law, and here is Jesus putting her on blast. If anyone hadn’t seen her, they saw her then. Mark and Luke tell us that the woman fell at Jesus’ feet. Luke says the woman “declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.” Mark concludes this story with Jesus telling the woman to “go in peace and be healed.”

In calling attention to the woman, Jesus brought glory to God identifying Him as the Healer. Point One – Your “issue” is not just about you. Lay it at Jesus’ feet and permit Him to heal you and to bring glory to God. Point Two – Healing requires boldness to overcome the fear of what others may say about you and your “issue.”

Jesus told the woman to go and be healed. Wasn’t she healed when she touched His garment? The bleeding stopped, but the healing was incomplete. Sheila Walsh suggests the woman needed healing from shame, disappointment, self-hatred and the burden that the “issue” had been. Jesus knew that the woman needed to be made whole; she needed salvation. Point Three – Christ works in our lives well beyond the point at which we first come to faith.  He desires that we become whole in Him.

“Issues” of blood are draining. After extensive bleeding, anemia is likely. The Mayo Clinic tells us that as the body becomes increasingly deficient in iron, anemia worsens and signs and symptoms intensify. Symptoms vary but may include extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness and, eventually, death.

“Issues” of the heart are no different. Isn’t it time for you to lay yours at Jesus’ feet?

Read Mark 5:27-34 this week and ponder the daily questions for reflection.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said unto him, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, ‘Who touched me?’”

 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

And he said unto her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

 

Monday Questions for Reflection:   What is your “issue?” How has it caused you to suffer? How is it defining you?

Tuesday Questions for Reflection:   The Law prohibited the woman from touching others no doubt leaving her feeling isolated, abandoned and lonely. How does your “issue” isolate you from others?  Are you choosing to isolate yourself – your REAL self?

Wednesday Questions for Reflection:   The woman risked breaking the Purity Law and pressed through a crowd to touch Jesus’ garment. What risks must you take to be free of your “issue?” What or whom is keeping you from Jesus?

Thursday Questions for Reflection:   Jesus told the woman her faith had made her whole. Do you have the faith necessary to experience God’s miracle in your own life? Are there areas in your life that you do not yet trust to God? What are they? What keeps you from trusting?

Friday Questions for Reflection:   The woman, fearing and trembling, fell at Jesus’ feet and, before the crowd, told Jesus everything. Testimony of healing is powerful. Will you lay your “issue” at Jesus’ feet, be healed and share your testimony with others?  Who needs to hear your testimony?


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Rushing for Lazarus

Have you ever been disappointed?

“Are you kidding” you’re thinking, “Who hasn’t?!”

We’ve all had the experience of thinking that we had found that special one of our dreams to later realize that (s)he was actually the one of our nightmares.  We’ve also experienced our children saying and doing the unthinkable and being nothing like what we thought we had “raised” them to be.  And we have been excited to begin a job and then dread going to the very place that used to bring us such joy.  And, let’s be honest, we have had times that we couldn’t place the blame anywhere else other than at our own feet, and we have been disappointed in ourselves – can’t believe we said that, thought that, acted like that.

Now, let’s be real honest – especially since you have only to tell yourself the truth.  Have you ever been disappointed in God?

Yikes!  Surely that must be blasphemous!

Sheila Walsh says, “God is big enough, and His love is fierce enough to deal with anything we feel or must face.”  In other words, He can take it.  In better words, He can help you through it.

Look at John 11:1-3 (ESV).

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.'”

Hmm. Mary had anointed the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. It was her brother that was ill. Surely Jesus is going to drop everything and make a beeline to their home. And if that wasn’t enough, verse 3 emphasizes that Jesus loved Lazarus, too. That’s like the cherry on top; He is coming now for certain. If we look ahead, even verse 5 of this text says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Can’t you picture Mary and Martha – and even Lazarus? They’re not sad. They’re not worried. “Jesus loves us, and He is coming!” I picture them sitting around reminiscing about the miracles they’d seen Jesus perform. THIS will be NOTHING for Him.

But He didn’t come.  At least not right away.  And Lazarus died.  Then Jesus came.

Let’s skip way ahead in this text to verse 20. “So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.”   This being a Christian blog, let’s just suffice it to say Mary was probably a bit disappointed. Her hopes and expectations were dashed on several rocks – first Jesus not coming when they had sent for Him even AFTER she had wiped His feet with her hair AND Lazarus has now died!!!!! Then Jesus just strolls in rather nonchalantly. Are you serious?

Yes.

Jesus had intentionally delayed. Look back at verse 6 which reads, “So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”

Jesus was not running late. He wasn’t caught up or caught off guard. He hadn’t bitten off more than He could chew. He heard about Lazarus, and He intentionally stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

And Mary was disappointed. In verse 32b she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

You know how women say one thing and mean something else? (I can write that since I am a woman.) I read that Mary said, “If you’d been here, Lazarus would still be alive.” I imagine that Mary meant, “Where were you? Why didn’t you come? Don’t you care? Didn’t you know? How could you not have come? I thought you loved us! Is this how you show love?”

It didn’t help either that there were a bunch of naysayers hanging around in verse 37 – “But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

There are SO many lessons in this text.

But let’s go back to Mary’s disappointment. Did you notice that it didn’t faze the Lord? He heard her – her spoken words and the words of her heart. He loved her no less. He let her pour out her heart, and then He did what He came to do. In verse 40 He reminded them, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” And the glory of God is what He showed them as He called Lazarus from the grave. Wow! Healing the sick is one thing. Raising the dead, that’s another!

God loved Mary. He loved Martha. He loved Lazarus. But He didn’t rush to their aid.

He loves you. He may not rush to your aid.

He will, as the old Negro spiritual says, “come right on time.”

You may be disappointed, and you can tell Him, but never doubt Him. Keep believing, and He will show you the glory of God!

Read Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) each day this week then reflect on the given questions.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Monday Questions for Reflection: What are the disappointments of your life? List them (preferably in a journal). At the top and bottom of the page write, “Hope does not disappoint.” Revisit your journal periodically and the list of disappointments. Make note of how God reveals Himself and His glory in relation to each one.

Tuesday Questions for Reflection: Could it be that God delays to build endurance in us? How do you think Mary, Martha and even Lazarus changed after Lazarus was raised from the dead? When was a time that God’s delay brought you a greater blessing?

Wednesday Questions for Reflection: Identify a current disappointment in God. Can you choose to worship Him through it? How does that make you feel?

Thursday Questions for Reflection: Look at those who have surrounded you. Are they feeding and encouraging your disappointment (like the Jews who asked “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”) or are they encouraging your hope in the Lord? Might you need to separate yourself from someone – at least for a season?

Friday Questions for Reflection: Examine your own actions. Are you feeding someone else’s disappointment or are you encouraging their hope in the Lord? What do you need to start doing, stop doing or do more of?