Lesson 2 -- first quarter 2010
December 13, 2009
© Copyright 2009
Does my life today say I would I have been among the multitudes that followed Jesus then?
Is my preference to "tell no man" about Jesus' deeds for me?
Do I take Jesus' Word as His command to me?
How can I learn to care about others as Jesus does?
How sick must I be before I exercise my faith in Jesus' healing will and power?
"You can read to me, if you want to."
"If you want to, you can rub some of this on my back."
If I want to.
They each knew I could. The question wasn't about that.
"And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Matthew 8:2).
Jesus' answer? "I will" (Matthew 8:3).
When the child needs some attention or the disabled needs some help, let me choose a willing heart.
And where I lack the sincere "want to" -- well, let me do what's right anyway.
Virtual reality. This is the computer-based technology tested in its infancy in aircraft and spacecraft simulators. The idea is giving pilots and trainees the almost-real feel of flight without the hazards of real flight. The simulation can be real enough to provoke nausea and other physiological reactions. The experience seems real enough, all right, but it isn't. It all happens inside an earth-bound machine.
Virtual reality. It seems to be the computer rage of the age. The uses can be beneficial and benign: walk all the way through a house and make design and layout changes before it is even built; go inside a person's body, floating through the bloodstream or hiking through the digestive system, checking cholesterol build-up or tracing the cause of bleeding. But it also has its perverted side, giving you the "opportunity" to have an affair without actually leaving your computer keyboard.
Is this the reality of faith? Just a figment of the imagination? Just a psychological tool? Just a physical-emotional experience? Just something vivid enough to seem like the real thing? No way!
Whether it's the substance of things hoped for or the evidence of things not seen, faith far supersedes virtual reality and defies the standard perception of physical reality. Faith sees what cannot be perceived with the eyes. Faith senses the substance of that which has not yet materialized. Faith has solid evidence for that which is not yet seen. Faith sees as done those things which God has promised. That, as you know by now, is optimistic reality. A belief so strong, a touch with truth so convincing, that we can move on to other things. That is how a long-ago father reacted once: "Come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way" (John 4:49,50).
Though Jesus commended Thomas for finally believing, he also rebuked Thomas for being stuck on the obvious. "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). How much does it take to get you to believe what God has to say?
That question can be rephrased to ask, "How readily do you accept God's promises for yourself?" The Bible has promises that I can take for myself, but Satan and my flesh gang up on me to produce questions, doubts and even unbelief at times. But notice what Elizabeth exclaimed to Mary, "Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45). Did you catch that! Belief unleashes blessing and the fulfillment of God's promises! Perhaps we need to approach the Lord honestly more often like another father did long ago, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
This kind of faith is not based on our ability to imagine or convince ourselves. This faith reality rests solidly on God and His Word.
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8).
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalms 119:89).
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).
This concludes my comments based on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications. To read my comments on the passage for the International Bible Study, click here: An Unexpected Sign for the Messiah's Birth.
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