We Come to Where Jesus is by Faith

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Last week and earlier this week we looked at three people from Mark 5 who fought through various kinds of opposition to physically get to where Jesus was when they had need. The result of their commitment and effort was complete victory for each of them. We do not have to go to a physical location to make a connection with Jesus. In our day, it is a matter of emotional and spiritual proximity that will release the power of God in our lives. How do we do in the spirit what these three people did in the natural?

Part of the answer to that question resides in Hebrews chapter 12. The Lord says that he shakes the heavens and the earth so that what is unshakable will remain. He did that in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus in an ultimate sense. However, this chapter is about us living in the world as individual Christians. I believe there is a process that we go through whereby God shakes out of us the things that make us shaky in our relationship with him. What remains is a person who cannot be shaken.

This also results in a closer walk with the Lord. Just as physical proximity guaranteed success to the three people in Mark 5, spiritual proximity with the Lord will result in success for the present day Christian. More than ever, we need to be where Jesus is in the spirit. We need his power for our own lives as well as for the lives of the people around us who do not yet know him.

Yesterday we looked at the first and main way that God shakes us to bring us to where he is. He speaks. He speaks first through his Word. Our attitude toward the Word of God will determine how God can speak to us inwardly. If we ignore the word by not giving it attention or by not obeying what it says, God will not speak to us inwardly and we will find that we are not living where Jesus is. We will have difficulty getting answers to our prayers and we will not be successful in our Christian walk.

I want to move back to the beginning of chapter 12 today. This chapter lays out in detail the ways that God deals with us. Some of what the Lord says here is difficult to hear. That is why verse one is so important. The first word in that verse is “therefore.” There is an old saying when it comes to bible interpretation. When you see a “therefore” you need to find out what it is “there for.” This word connects all of chapter 12 to chapter 11.

In chapter 11, the writer explains the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us today. The whole of chapter 11 deals with the subject of faith and those who walked by faith throughout history. It is in the light of their lives and by faith that we can receive what God wants to show us in the 12th chapter.

Look at the last 2 verses of Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:39-40 (NKJV) 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Reading Hebrews 11 we find some of the great heroes of the Old Testament. We also read of people who went through great trials. The Lord tells us here that they were not complete in themselves. All that they did led to our day. It was so that we could be what God needs us to be that they suffered and accomplished what they did.

God was working in and through them so that he could bring about his plan for us in the earth. There were times when they had to endure many things to get to where God needed them to be. It is doubtful that they understood all that God was doing through them. They were just living the life that God placed before them.

As we look back, we must realize that all that happened to them was in God’s control and for God’s purpose. We must approach our lives with the same faith in God. We do not always understand what the Lord is doing. We must trust that all he is doing is to bring us to that closer walk with him which will bring powerful results in our lives.

The five people that we studied in Mark 5 were willing to do anything they had to do because of the urgency of the trial. Sometimes that is what happens to us. A shaking comes in our circumstances and we get so desperate that we do whatever it takes to get a hold of the Lord. That is one way that we can become unshakable. God will use whatever comes to try us and remove whatever keeps us from him. I believe this chapter shows us another way.

I believe we can have the process of Hebrews 12 thrust on us by circumstances or we can seek it directly from the Lord. If we do the latter and cooperate with what God wants to do in us, we can minimize the circumstantial shaking. I doubt we can ever totally avoid it, but we can minimize it. If we do not embrace Hebrews 12 on our own, God will be faithful to apply it when we do get desperate. I believe, at least partially, the choice is ours.

There is much to say about the first few verses of this chapter, but today let me point out one thing. It says that we must look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. These two words mean that Jesus is the one who determined how real faith in God would work in the human heart. When Dr. B.J. Pruitt was with us recently he used the term “prototype.”

Jesus is the prototype of human faith in God. A prototype not only determines how a new product should work but it also tests that product until it is “ready for prime time.” In the testing process, the prototype is subjected to every kind of stress that it would face in the hands of the public. It is then taken beyond that point to stresses that it should never face in normal use.

Jesus authored what faith in God should look like in the human heart. Then he tested it and proved it in the most difficult of circumstances. He used this “prototype” faith to overcome a trial greater than any we can ever face. He overcame the sin of the world and the death and burial of the redemption sacrifice. The result was the resurrection and the purchased freedom of all men.

Look at verse 3 and 4 of Hebrews 12.

Hebrews 12:3-4 (NKJV) 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Jesus authored and finished faith in God. We need to approach Hebrews 12 by this same faith. We need to know that the great cloud of witnesses from both before and after Hebrews 11 are depending on us to be the church that they all sacrificed to see.

We also need to know that anything God asks of us is to create in us that unshakable kingdom. If we approach the next few verses by faith and trust in God, we will soon find that we are where he is and nothing will be impossible. The process is not always easy but if we approach it “considering the author and finisher of our faith, we will be successful

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How Do We Get to Where Jesus Is?

Hebrews 12:25 (NKJV) 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,

We have been looking at three stories in Mark chapter 5 about people who fought through great opposition to get into physical proximity with Jesus. Each had some kind of need and each had different challenges that they faced that would keep them from getting to Jesus. They all fought through their challenges and the results ranged from healing and deliverance to the raising of a child from the dead.

It is clear that in their day getting to where Jesus was physically caused their prayers would be answered. The Gospels are full of such stories. If you are a believer in Christ, I am sure you would feel the same way. If the physical Jesus showed up in your church service, you would know that he could meet any need you might have. It is not possible for us to get into physical proximity with Jesus the man. He is no longer here on the earth. He has appeared to some people and many of us would love to have that experience. This is not the norm for a Christian relationship today.

Although it might seem that seeing Jesus in person would be the highest form of encounter we could have, that is not the case. Jesus lives inside us. The Holy Spirit is always with us. We do not have to go anywhere to be near him and the closeness in the spirit we have as Christians is really more powerful and supernatural than if he showed up in church right in front of us.

Our relationship with the Lord is not subject to the conditions of the world. We know him in the spirit. He is always there. He is always available to us and there is nothing the devil can do to keep us from him. He will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

Our challenge is get to where he is in lifestyle and relationship. We need to be where he is in terms of behavior. We need to be where he is in terms of our thinking and our obedience to his Word. Although we do not have to go to some special place, we do have live in harmony with his will and purpose in order to have the kind of connection that will produce the results we need to have victory in life.

The three people we studied in Mark had to fight through physical weariness and bad health to get to Jesus. One had to fight through the effects of demonic possession and madness. Another had to fight through delays and disappointments to stay with Jesus long enough to see his prayer answered. What do we need to do?

We need to do many of the same things. We are going to have to rise above all the same challenges that they did. We are going to have to put in the physical effort to get to where he is in the spirit. We are going to have to pray study and worship when we do not feel we can. We are going to have to resist the devil and condemnation in order to get to where Jesus is. We are going to be disappointed, delayed and depressed but we will still have to trust and believe God.

Most or all of this can be accomplished by doing the normal things Christians must do. Sometimes we have a difficult time doing them and sometimes we just do not do them. This brings us back to Hebrews chapter 12 and what I like to call the unshakable kingdom. These two ideas are related. If I am where Jesus is I am unshakable.

My problem is that I do not always believe he is there. It is normal that we do not always sense the manifest presence of God. That is just the nature of having a spiritual relationship in a physical body. It is possible to feel that presence more than we do and it is necessary that we believe in it when we do not feel it.

Part of the problem is the process of growth. We are all in different states of spiritual development. Unfortunately, it is often a matter of our not doing what the three people in Mark 5 did. They did what was necessary to get to where Jesus was. Jesus is here with us. Sometimes we do not do what it takes to get close to him. When the reason we do not is that there are shaky things in our lives that keep us from doing what we must, God helps us by shaking those things out of our lives so that we will become unshakable. The more we cooperate with this process the more unshakable we will become.

Today’s verse points us to the initial and probably most important step in this process. We need to hear the Lord when he is speaking. Once we hear him, we need to make sure that we do not “refuse” what he says. We might use a different term today. We need to make sure we are not ignoring the voice of God that is speaking to us today. What he is saying is so that we will become increasingly unshakable. When we do not hear him or when we ignore him, we reinforce the things that are causing us to not draw near to Jesus and therefore making us shakier still.

Most of us would argue that we would never ignore the Lord if we know he was speaking to us. Let me ask you a question. When do you feel ignored if you are speaking? I feel ignored if people do not take the time to hear me out. If they seem to be only partially listening to what I have to say, I consider that being ignored.

I also feel that I am being ignored when people hear me but they do not do what I say. There are times when people ask me for counsel and when I am done giving it they say, “I don’t think that applies to me.” On the other hand, they may agree with what I say, but they continue in the same behavior. They have ignored me even if they did not mean to. My response is, “Why did you bother to ask and why did I bother to talk.”

How often have we done both to the Lord? I know that hearing God is sometimes difficult. I am teaching on how to hear God’s voice in our church. It is vital skill if we are going to be successful as Christians. The first step to hearing God’s voice directly is to hear his voice in His Word. I guarantee you that the attitude you hold toward the Word of God will determine your ability to hear the voice of God.

If you do not take time for the voice you can read, you will not take time to hear the still small voice that wants to speak to your heart. If you will not obey the voice of the Word of God, you will not obey the voice that speaks to your heart. The more you cultivate reading and meditating in the written Word of God, the more clearly you will hear the spoken voice of God. If you refuse to obey the written Word of God, God is unlikely to say much to your heart. Why bother? If you ignore his Word, you will ignore his voice as well.

The first way that God shakes us is to speak to us. Are you ignoring him? Check out your attitude toward his written Word. Are you ignoring the written Word by never reading it? What priority does the preaching and teaching of God’s word have in your life? Are you obeying the truth you learn or are you just learning as a religious exercise. If any of this is true, you are “refusing him who is speaking today.”

We Have Victory When we are Near the Lord

James 4:8 (NKJV) 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Last week we looked at some people who made an extraordinary effort to get to Jesus’ physical location so that he could touch them and meet their need. We saw that the woman with the issue of blood overcome physical illness as well as social and religious taboos in order to “touch the hem” of Jesus’ garment. Because she got to the place where Jesus was, she was healed.

We saw that Jairus, who was an official in the synagogue and therefore very powerful in the community, set aside his position and pride to come to Jesus personally in order to bring Jesus to his daughter. We may or may not have an urgent personal need that requires Jesus’ intervention, but we know people who do. We need to be near him to bring him to them and them to him.

Jairus then had to trust Jesus all the way to the end of the trial to see the result. Even though Jesus’ delay with the woman at the well seemed to cause him to get to Jairus’ daughter too late, he kept believing. He stayed where Jesus was and his daughter was raised from the dead.

One man that we did not study last week was the first one we read about in Mark 5. He was a man who was possessed by the devil. Jesus had journeyed across the Sea of Galilee and come to the region of the Gadarenes. This would have been a 15 or 20 journey across open water in a small sail boat. I am sure he was tired when he got there. The bible tells us that as soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was confronted by this man.

Mark gives us some background on him. He lived in the cave tombs of the Jews of the region. He was in all respects a complete lunatic. The people considered him very dangerous and tried to bind him. However, he was so possessed by the devil that he was supernaturally strong. He broke the chains with which the people tried to bind him. He wandered about in the graveyard terrorizing the people.

In verse 6, it says that when he saw Jesus from “afar off” he ran to him and worshipped him. I think there is something we need to remember here. There were two entities occupying this man in the story. One was the man himself. The other was a legion of demons. These demons were in complete control of the man’s life. Nevertheless, when the man saw Jesus he came and worshiped him. Despite the influence of 1000 demons when the man decided to come to Jesus they could not stop him.

In verse 7, the man speaks to Jesus. However, I do not believe it was the man in control of the words. The man implores Jesus not to torment him. Jesus would never torment any human being. However, the speaker knew that Jesus had authority over demonic powers. It was not the man who spoke; it was the demonic power controlling him.

We know this to be true because they spoke in response to what Jesus said. “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” The man came and worshiped. The spirit spoke the words. In the end Jesus’ cast out the spirits and the man ended up sitting with Jesus clothed and in his right mind. (Mark 5:15)

This man was not only controlled by demons, but he was probably a gross sinner. He would have been filled with guilt and condemnation. We deal with people who have had hard lives and the damage that is done to them emotionally is incredibly hard for them to overcome. What kind of damage was done to a man controlled by 1000 demons?

Even with all of things trying to drive him away from Jesus, when he saw him, nothing could keep the man away. What keeps us from Jesus? Is it demonic influences? Is it the emotional damage of a lost childhood? Maybe we have lived in sin and guilt is keeping us from coming to the Lord. I want you to see today that if you decide to get to Jesus, none of these things can stop you. If they did not stop him, they do not have to stop you.

I am not saying it may not be difficult. There are three people’s stories in Mark 5 and it was difficult for all of them to get to where Jesus was. They faced physical obstacles, spiritual obstacles and emotional obstacles. Each fought through the obstacles they faced to get into physical proximity with Jesus. When they did, the result was healing, deliverance and freedom.

In this chapter, we see a man set free from demonic possession. We see a woman healed of an incurable disease and we see Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead and restored to her grieving parents. All of these things happened because the people did what they had to do to get close to Jesus. It may take effort, repentance and commitment to get to where we need to be. If we do what is required we will see the same kind of results these three people saw.

The question is, “How do I get to where Jesus is today?” In their day, this was a question of physical proximity. This is not so today. Jesus no longer walks the earth in one physical body. Jesus is here in his church. He is here in the person of the Holy Spirit who is everywhere present. We do not have to travel to some distant location to get close to Jesus. We do not have to fight through crowds to get near him. He is right where you are now.

Over the last 20 years, revival has broken out in some specific cities. You may be familiar with the names Toronto, Brownsville or Lakeland. Although I do not think it is wrong to go to a place where God seems to be doing something special, we need to remember that we do not have to go anywhere to get close to Jesus. The question for us is not one of physical proximity but one of emotional and spiritual proximity. Our struggle is to believe that Jesus is right here with us. Our struggle is to put down the flesh so that our behavior does not hinder our faith in Jesus.

The promise in today’s verse is true. If we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. How do we draw near to him? We draw near by reading and meditating in his Word. We draw near through prayer and repentance. We draw near by submitting to the dealings of the Holy Spirit. We are unshakable when we are near him. To be near him today does not mean a place. It means a condition of the heart that is reflected in our lifestyle.

I want to be unshakable. I want to be where Jesus is so that I can have the results that the three people in Mark 5 enjoyed. To do that, I must examine myself, allow the Holy Spirit to work in me and be ready to accept what the Lord says I need to do. Whatever it takes, I need to be where Jesus is.

To Return to the Lord Means to Trust Him

(We had the privilege of having Dr. B. J. Pruitt, our apostolic covering and father in the faith, with us this week. Here are some thoughts based on what he shared with us this week.)

Mark 5:22-23 (NKJV) 22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.”

Yesterday we looked at our need to return to the Lord. The nation of Israel repeatedly walked away from the ways of God. Every time they did, they found themselves in difficult positions. Eventually this tendency led to captivity for them. However, the Lord often exhorted them to return to him and his ways. In Malachi 3, we read such an exhortation.

I believe we need to return to the ways of God today. This is not a popular point of view. Even in the church, there is the sense that this is a new day and some things just do not apply to our current situation. I would counter with the thought that, although times change, neither God nor his Word changes. The problems, attitudes and many other things may change. The solutions do not. We must return to the Lord.

We looked at a woman in Mark 5 who had to use great effort to get to where Jesus was. She even risked criticism and worse to get close enough to him to touch the hem of his garment. She refused to stay where she was and die of her disease. I think we need some of what she had. We need to apply whatever effort we must in order to come into the presence of Jesus. If we endure criticism, so be it. If our faith involves some risk, it is worth it if we can come to where Jesus is.

In our day, we do not need to go to a physical location. It is a place of faith and commitment to which we must return. We need to return to the Lord in our behavior and our attitudes. We need to return to the Lord in our faith and expectation. We need to return to his ways and commit our hearts to hearing his voice.

This story contains another player. When Jesus returned from the other side of the Sea of Galilee, an important man came to ask something of Jesus. His daughter was dying. He wanted Jesus to come to her and raise her up. Jesus agreed and went with the distraught father.

Once again, we see that Jairus, the father in question, did not wait for Jesus to come to him. He was an important religious authority in the town. He might well have sent representatives to Jesus with the expectation that Jesus would certainly come to the home of such an important man. He did not do that. The situation was too important to him. His loved his daughter more than life itself. He got up from his place of comfort. He humbled himself and went to where Jesus was. He returned to the Lord.

In Jairus, we see another reason we need to return to the Lord. The woman with the issue of blood went for herself. Jairus went for someone else. We need to return to the Lord because our family needs him. We need to go to where Jesus is because our community needs a touch from the Lord.

Our nation is in desperate need and we cannot meet those needs. We must go to where Jesus is and intercede for our loved ones. Jairus wanted to bring Jesus into contact with his daughter. We need to bring Jesus into contact with our family, community and nation. To do that, we must be where he is.

As the story plays out, we see that Jesus readily agrees to go with Jairus. I can see the relief on his face coupled with urgency. His daughter is dying. He does not know how long she may have left. He is grateful that Jesus is coming to his aid but there is not time to waste. I can see him taking Jesus by the hand and rushing off towards his home.

They have not gone very far when Jesus stops short. “Who touched me?” he asks. The disciples point out that there is a crowd around Jesus. Many people are touching him. He said, “You don’t understand. I didn’t ask who is touching me, I asked, ‘Who touched me?’ Someone had made a demand on Jesus. The woman with the issue of blood had touched the hem of his garment with her hand but she had touched his spirit with her faith.

Jesus stops the procession to have a conversation with this woman. What about Jairus? He was the ruler of the synagogue. This same synagogue would have deemed this woman unclean. He knew that, by the law, she was not even supposed to be in the street. His daughter is dying! Time is of the essence!

Many of us would have grabbed Jesus and said, “Teacher, this woman can wait! We need to get to my daughter!” We might have pointed out that the woman was already healed. There was no need to delay further so we all can hear her story. There is no indication Jairus did any of that.

I have six children. I can tell you that if one of them were dying I would move heaven and earth to save him or her. I might well have grabbed Jesus and pulled him away from the woman. If he protested, I would have begged, pleaded or tried to intimidate him into going with me immediately so my daughter would not die. It would seem that he just waited for Jesus to finish with this woman.

Part of returning to the Lord is trusting him with our lives. Jesus said he would heal Jairus’ daughter. He is a man of his word. God is a good for his Word. When we return to him, we need to trust that he will do what he says he will do.

Jairus’ timetable and Jesus’ did not seem to agree. I often find myself in that position. Nevertheless, if I have truly returned to the Lord I will trust that he will do what he said he would do.

When they finally reached Jairus’ house, the people waiting there said, “You are too late. Jesus might as well leave because he didn’t get here in time. She’s gone.”

I am sure Jairus was initially horrified by this turn of events. I am sure he had the thought any parent would have in his situation. “If Jesus hadn’t stopped to deal with that woman my daughter would still be alive. If he had just kept going, the woman would be healed and my daughter would have lived.”

Jesus turned to Jairus and said, “Don’t be afraid. Just keep believing.” When we return to where Jesus is, we need to trust him with our whole life. Even if he delays to the point that it seems too late, it is never too late with Jesus. The girl was dead. She was not nearly dead. She was dead. The situation had gone from difficult and urgent to impossible. This did not hinder Jesus at all.

When we are where he is, nothing is impossible. He commanded everyone but the parents to leave the room. He told Jairus that he would raise up his daughter. It seemed that other things were more important than the life of their little girl. However, Jairus was with Jesus. Death was not too difficult an opponent for him.

As they watched, Jesus spoke to their lifeless child. “Little girl, time to get up!” I can only imagine how they felt as her eyes fluttered awake and she sat up completely well. “I think this little one needs something to eat.” Jesus said. What kind of joy would Jairus and his wife feel at that moment?

We need to be where Jesus is in faith and righteousness. When we are in that place, setbacks may come. Our timetable and Jesus’ timetable may not agree. We need to trust him. He will not fail us. It seemed that death had defeated Jairus. It seemed that Jesus had failed him. As Jairus continued to stay where Jesus was, he discovered that death is no match for the Lord of life. So will you!

Return to the Lord

(We had the privilege of having Dr. B. J. Pruitt, our apostolic covering and father in the faith, with us this week. Here are some thoughts based on what he shared with us this week.)

Malachi 3:6-7 (NKJV) 6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 7 Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’

In today’s scripture we find that Israel has once again fallen away from the ways of God. It would seem that they did not really understand how far they had fallen this time. It seemed that everything was all right. God reminds them of his unchanging nature of love and mercy and tells them that his nature is the only reason they had not already been destroyed.

For two generations they had gradually let more and more things slip. He says “from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances.” I think this is a very clear picture of what we have seen in our country and the church over that last few decades. We have gradually allowed things that used to be important become unimportant. Things that used to be looked down upon in the church and in the world are now accepted.

The situation in Israel had come to the point where God could no longer allow it to continue. He is speaking this way to them because his mercy was close to running out. They were heading down a path that could only result in destruction. God did not want that for his people and he still does not. God describes how far they had fallen later in the chapter.

Malachi 3:14-15 (NKJV) 14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the LORD of hosts? 15 So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ ”

I think we can see the resemblance to our own times in their words. Neither they nor we got to this point overnight. It took many years. Now God must say to Israel, “If something does not change, bad things will result.” I think he is saying the same to us.

When confronted with these strong words the people did not seem to show a heart of repentance. “How are we supposed to turn back to you?” To my ears, this sounds like self justification. “What have we done that’s so bad? We’re alright. We aren’t sinners like other people.” That is probably how we sound to God.

When we allow things to degrade gradually, we do not recognize how far we are from God’s best until it is too late. In Israel’s day, they were facing yet another round of destruction. In our day, we find that we do not see the power of god the way we used to see it. We do not hear of healings and miracles the way our fathers in the faith saw them. People are not sensitive to the things of God the way they once were. Where the church used to be the standard for righteousness and holiness for the world, we have become a reflection of worldliness with little power or character to separate us from everyone else.

I believe we need what Israel needed. We need to return to God. We need to get back to foundational beliefs. We need to lay aside the sins and the weights that keep us from being the city set on a hill that Jesus said we should be. (Hebrews 12:1 and Matthew 5:14) We need to let our light shine brightly once again so the world will be drawn to Jesus.

Let us look at someone who determined to return to the Lord so she could see her need met by him.

Mark 5:25-29 (NKJV) 25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.

This is a familiar story. This woman had suffered 12 years with this problem. No doctor had been able to help her. I am speculating, but if she could afford all those doctors, she must have been well off financially. She spent all she had trying to get better. Then she heard about Jesus.

The stories she heard about this miracle-working prophet brought hope to her weary heart. Faith rose in her that if she could get to him everything would change. “If I can just touch the hem of his garment I will be healed.” There was nothing magical about the hem of Jesus garment. She just knew she had to get to where he was.

There are some things we need to realize about her illness. When a woman was experiencing her monthly cycle, she was considered unclean. She was not to be out in public. She could not approach holy things. To touch a priest during this time could result in stoning. Her issue of blood was not the regular monthly flow all women experience, it was her condition all the time. She was always unclean.

If she was out in public, she was obligated to make sure everyone knew that she was unclean. Her plan was to push her way through a crowd of people and touch the hem of a prophet’s garment. The risk she was taking is hard for us to understand but what she did could have cost her life. That did not matter to her since her condition would have killed her anyway. Still, it shows how desperate she was to get to where Jesus was.

In addition to the risk involved in getting to Jesus was the matter of her condition itself. She was losing blood consistently. She would have been very weak. She was probably bed ridden. What kind of effort would it have taken to muster the strength to get out of bed and walk to where Jesus was going to pass by?

Once she found where he was, she realized that he was surrounded by a crowd of people. The ruler of the synagogue was with him and he was obviously headed somewhere with this important man. It would have been easy for her to be discouraged. However, she was desperate. She would not give up.

She must have been very tired by the time she reached the street but she mustered all the strength she had left and began working her way through the crowd. Jesus did not stop until she finally touched his garment. What a monumental effort it took to reach him. No wonder she could only touch the hem of his garment. By the time she got to him, she probably could no longer stand.

The result of her effort was complete healing. Imagine what this meant to her. Not only was her body healthy again, but she was no longer unclean. Her life was given back to her. How?

She “returned to the Lord.” I do not know where you are. I know that I need to see more of the Lord in my town. I need to see God show himself strong once again in my nation and in the World. How can that happen. I believe we need to be where he is.

Just as this woman pushed through weaknesses and danger to get to where Jesus was, we need to push through sin, laziness and the opposition of the world to get to where he is now. We cannot wait for him to come to us. He is waiting for us to return to him. Then and only then will we see what we need to see to change our world.

Just as the woman received both healing and the restoration of her life, I believe we can see the power of God restored to the church so we can bring physical, emotional and spiritual healing to the world. The only question is whether we will show the same desperation and diligence this women showed.

The Unshakable is What Will Remain

Hebrews 12:27 (NKJV) 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

This week we started looking at Hebrews chapter 12. Verses 27-28 speak of shaking. These verses contrast the shaking that occurred when the children of Israel received the law under Moses and the shaking that occurred at the crucifixion of Jesus. Hebrews tells us that the former shaking was in the natural only while the latter extended to the spirit as well. Everything that could be shaken was shaken so that what remains in salvation is unshakable.

In looking at the whole of Hebrews 12, I believe that there is another meaning to these verses. God shook the heavens and the earth to remove anything in man’s potential relationship with God that could be vulnerable to the devil. In the Garden of Eden, vulnerability led to the fall. In Christ, there are no vulnerabilities. Our covenant is unshakable.

I believe that this idea of removing vulnerabilities extends to us personally. We have things in our lives that make us vulnerable to the devil. We can repent and deal with these things. We study the Word of God and this will strengthen us in our vulnerable areas. We need to deepen our spiritual relationship with the Lord so that he can help us cover them. When we do not do these things or when the vulnerabilities go beyond what we can see, God will shake us. There are specific ways he does that and in this chapter they are laid out in detail.

One of the most important things we must understand if we are going to respond to God’s shaking properly is that there is a purpose. He wants us to be unshakable. He wants us to be able to stand in any storm and come out victorious. Just as the house built upon the rock in Matthew 7 stood in the storm, so God wants us to be able to stand through any storm. The world needs something unshakable in such an unstable world and I believe this is one of the major keys to the coming revival.

I was thinking about places where cities are built in earthquake prone areas. In the United States, San Francisco may be the best know example. In 1906, a major earthquake led to the devastation of the city. In 1989, the city experienced another quake. It was still devastating but not nearly as much as the one in 1906. Should San Francisco be struck again, the damage would be less than in 1989. Why is this so?

The reason is simple. With each successive “shaking” the city learned more about its vulnerabilities and corrected them. In 1906, most of the construction was wooden. The earthquake itself destroyed many buildings, but far fires destroyed far more of the city. The earthquake ruptured water lines and the fires burned out of control due to lack of water.

In 1989, this was not as big a problem but there were some specific neighborhoods that sustained more damage than others did. Construction methods were changed in these areas. The building codes for the whole area were revised based on what engineers and scientists had learned from the earthquakes. Today, buildings are much safer than ever before. That is not to say that an earthquake would cause no damage. However, the knowledge and experienced gained from the “shaking” resulted in buildings that could withstand much higher stress levels than previously was possible.

I want to say again that we should not feel condemned if we get shaky sometimes. Everyone does. Even the buildings designed to withstand powerful earthquakes still shake when the earthquake comes. The difference is that they do not fall. You and I will be shaken in life. That is inevitable. What God wants for us is that we will have a supernatural peace in the storm. He wants us to have a power sustaining us that will carry us to victory no matter what we face.

In cities like San Francisco, people know which buildings were made to withstand earthquakes. If there is an earthquake, it is to these buildings that people would run for protection. When other buildings fall, it is to these buildings that people would turn to for shelter. The devastation of 1906 and the destruction of 1989 were terrible things but they led to a safer and more stable city.

In our lives, we face things that shake us. If we apply faith and the Word of God to deal with those things, we will become more unshakeable. If we learn from previous mistakes and build or rebuild on the foundation on the Word of God, we will become more unshakable. The more we develop our spiritual relationship with the Lord, the more unshakable we will become. However, the Lord cares so much about us and about what we can do for the world that he will shake us if needed so that all that is shakable will be identified and removed.

I believe we have a great opportunity today. We have been experiencing some sever tremors in the earth. There are wars, economic uncertainty and political instability. The answers proposed by governments are proving increasingly ineffective. The tremors have been severe but the earthquake is yet to come. When it does, it will be easy to identify the things that are unshakable.

I believe that the only unshakable thing in the world is the covenant of salvation in Christ Jesus. God wants us to be the ones that the world can run to for safety and shelter. We need to do what we know to do so that our foundation will be strong. I believe we also need to be willing to allow God to shake anything that needs to be shaken so that we will be ready for the coming earthquake.

It is not my intent to declare bad things. I do not think it takes a prophet to see the trouble our world is in. I do believe that God knows exactly where we are and that he is in complete control. He is preparing people to be part of the solution. He is preparing a people that can stand in the midst of anything and remain stable and unshakable.

In San Francisco it is not the outside of the building that makes it unshakable. It is what is inside. Some of the buildings designed to stand may be impressive to look at. Some are not. The shaking reveals the ones that are strong.

In our world, it is the unshakable kingdom of the Church that will stand. The question is whether you and I will be firmly planted in that unshakable kingdom or if we will be weak in our personal foundation. I believe the world needs you and I to be standing at the end of the day so they will know where to run during the storm. For that to be the case, everything in our lives that can be shaken must be shaken so that the unshakable will be all that remains.

God Wants us to be Unshakable

Hebrews 12:27-28 (NKJV) 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Yesterday we began looking at the background of this section of scripture. Paul is contrasting the delivering of the Law under Moses and redemption in Christ. In both cases there is record of a physical shaking; an earthquake that the people of each time felt in the natural world. However, in Hebrews we see the contrast between these two events from God’s point of view. In the Old Testament, the shaking was in the natural world only because God was delivering to his people a natural law only.

Here we learn that the shaking which occurred in redemption was not limited to the natural world. There was a natural component to the shaking because there is a natural component to our salvation. The real shaking occurred in the realm of the spirit. God shook the spiritual order and provided a spiritual salvation and access to a spiritual Kingdom of God.

The shaking in salvation was to eliminate everything in man’s relationship with God anything that could be shaken. The result is a relationship that is unshakable. Nothing can hinder man’s access to the Kingdom of God once he receives salvation in Christ. We may wander out into sin or unbelief and lose the protection and benefit of our Kingdom relationship, but it is always right there waiting for us. When we choose to repent, we are restored immediately to relationship with the Lord.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As I read the above scripture, I began to think of my own life. What was it that caused me to do some of the foolish things that have brought problems into my life? Why did I fail to trust God at times when he has proven himself so faithful for so many years? Sometimes it is because I just willfully sinned. More often, it was because something had shaken my faith or my relationship with the Lord.

I began to look at these verses in a different light. What if this shaking God was speaking of was not just the historical shaking that occurred when Jesus purchased Salvation. What if this “unshakable Kingdom” was also something God wanted to do in my life? I believe that the context of the twelfth chapter of Hebrews points to that conclusion.

We live in very unstable times. Even in the best of times, life can be difficult. We all have weaknesses through which we are growing. We also may have weaknesses and sins that we are not addressing. Life produces challenges of all kinds. No one is immune to trials and tribulations. How can we come to the place where we stay in God’s unshakable Kingdom? How can we cover the weaknesses in our lives that cause us to be shaken when things get difficult? I believe the answer lies in this chapter.

What are the ways in which we get shaky in our walk? We may become shaky in our faith. Sometimes we just do not feel that we can believe God. We know he has been there for us before but somehow this time is different. We may begin to doubt our relationship with God. We may feel that we are unworthy of his help. We may feel that God does not love us. All of these things happen to every Christian. It is not a sin to feel this way. It is a sin to let these feelings go unchallenged.

If we look more closely at the things that shake us, we will find that the shakiness is a product of some vulnerability we have allowed to remain in our life. What can we do about those weaknesses? First, we can begin to strengthen them with the Word of God. We need to do our best to identify weaknesses in our lives and apply the Word to those areas.

Most of the time, we enjoy studying Bible topics in which are already strong. When we find something in the word that speaks to a sin or weakness, our tendency is to turn the page and find a verse we like! The truth is that we should do just the opposite. We should study the areas where we are weak.

The Word of God is food for your spirit. Just as protein builds muscle, fats build stores for later release and carbohydrates produce energy in our bodies, so the Word for a given topic will feed us in that area. We see what happens in the physical body when one type of food is consumed to excess and other types of food are neglected. The body gets weak and fat and cannot do what we need it to do. The same is true in the spirit. We need a good balanced spiritual diet. When we find an area of weakness, we should “bulk up” on that particular spiritual nutrient.

Another way to attack the shakiness that comes from living in the physical world is to cultivate our relationship with God in the spirit. We need to spend time in his presence. We need to pray, meditate in the Word of God and offer him praise and worship. This is akin to physical exercise. If we eat all the right foods but never exercise, we will never be strong. If we study the Word but never spend time in God’s presence, we will never be strong in the spirit.

We should do our best to cover our weaknesses and repent of known sin so that we will be strong in the Lord. However, sometimes we do not know what the weaknesses are. We may not know that we have opened our lives to sin. Other times we are simply lazy or careless. In those times, God has another way to help us become more and more unshakable. In those times, he does the shaking!

This is not a popular idea. Often, people do not understand how God shakes his children and they ascribe things to him that no father would do. God does not shake us by making us sick. I do not believe God shakes us with poverty or by destroying family relationships. He will certainly use those things in the shaking process, but I do not believe he is their author. However, God does shake us.

Some of what we go through is because God has indentified something that makes us vulnerable and he wants to shore up that weakness. He convicts us of sin and deals with our flesh because he knows that those things are open doors that our enemy can exploit to keep us from fulfilling our destiny or receiving the blessing God wants to give us.

Most of us either have been through such times or are in them now. All of us will go through them in the future. We must remember that God has a purpose. The second verse of this chapter speaks of such a time in the life of Jesus. Of course, the shaking he was experiencing was not for him but for us. Nevertheless, we can learn from his example.

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was able to endure his time of shaking because he knew that there was a purpose in what was happening. He knew that the end would be a mighty victory. It was his endurance through the shaking of the cross that produced the unshakable salvation we enjoy.

We must trust that the shaking in our life today will produce something powerful in the future. What is God trying to do in you? He is making you unshakable!