I am no expert on this subject. However, I have read that in our foster-care system today, many young children are left to navigate a maze of court hearings and new schools with little or no help. Through the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, volunteers take some of this burden on themselves, committing to advocating for the best interests of a vulnerable child (“About Us,” Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). Those with money and social standing can navigate the court system with relative ease, but foster children face incredibly difficult challenges that no child should ever have to face.
This is the kind of advocate Jesus is. He doesn’t only hear the pleas of one class of people, of the wealthy and so-called “important.” Instead, Jesus came here to this wretched world to be the Mediator of all those who choose to go to Him in obedience. One example of Jesus’ great compassion for His children is in Mark chapter 5. Here we see a woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years. She had been to many physicians and endured through their supposed care, spending all she had, never to receive any help. Her condition got worse as time passed by. She heard of Jesus and her faith caused her to reach out and touch his cloak. In his busy schedule, as He journeyed through the land, Jesus took the time to acknowledge her and attend to her needs. She was trembling in fear, but Jesus tenderly says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:33-34).
We may never be healed of a physical disability or sickness. However, it is comforting to know we have such an advocate in Jesus who heals the sin-sick souls of those who walk in faith.
While at Bear Valley, one of my favorite classes was during my freshman year, the book of John with Dan Owen. I ran across this article so I thought it was perfect to share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
You Are a God Man: Has God Ever Given You a Guarantee?
My cardiologist had finished examining me during my annual checkup. He then said, “I will see you next year.” I was thankful that my heart seemed to be in good shape. When I entered the hall, I saw several of the ladies who worked in the building, and I said to them, “He said that he would see me next year, but he did not give me a guarantee.” It was then that my doctor walked up behind me, placed his arm around me and said, “You are a God man; has God ever given you a guarantee?” Though my cardiologist is very religious, he is not a Christian. However, since 2001 when he put a stent in a 95 percent blocked artery that was across my heart, he has known that I am a Gospel preacher. That is why he called me a “God man.” I replied that God has not promised me another year to live (James 4:13-14). Yet, God has given to me, as well as to all Christians who endeavor to live faithfully, several guarantees. I have chosen only a few guarantees from God that are mentioned in the inspired writings of the apostle John.
John 10:27-29. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” As long as we listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd and follow Him, there is no power on earth that can remove us from the hands and care of our Heavenly Father.
John 11:25-26. “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” These words of Jesus Christ give comfort to children of God who trust in Him who died for our sins and was resurrected from the tomb.
1 John 5:11-13. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” Eternal life for the believer is to be found in the Son of God and what He did for us on the cross of Calvary when He shed His precious blood. If we “walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).
Revelation 14:13. “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, say the Spirit, they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
These are God-given guarantees for Christians who “die in the Lord.” “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God; Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” - Raymond Elliott
Have you ever been so scared about something that it made you physically sick just thinking about it? I used to be so scared of public speaking that I would get sick, literally. One day I had to do an oral report in high school that scared me so much I stayed home from school. In fact, I never would do one. I would rather take the F. That may be shocking to you coming from a preacher. God works in mysterious ways. Looking back to how scared I got, never in my worst nightmares would I stand before 100 or so people and speak publicly. God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
In my office there is a picture of John Wayne that states, “Courage is being Scared to Death but Saddling Up Anyway.” My first time preaching a lesson for my Homiletics class in Chapel at Bear Valley, I was scared to death. With men in the audience such as Denny Petrillo, Michael Hite, Wayne Burger, Bill Stewart, Bob Turner (my Hom I instructor), who have preached for many many years and were wonderful speakers, I was basically shaking in my boots! But I thought of that John Wayne quote and saddled up anyway. I did not die, but my grade made me feel like dying. It was terrible. Fear can paralyze you.
In Joshua 1, Joshua was commissioned by God to go out and conquer Jericho and fill to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. He must have been scared because God tells him a few times to be strong and of good courage (Vv. 6,7 & 9). God makes three promises to Joshua:
PROMISE #1 – Joshua was going to inherit the Promise Land like Moses (Verse 3 & 4)
PROMISE #2 -No man shall stand before him all the days of his life (Verse 5)
PROMISE #3 - God states, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you?” (end of verse 5).
With these promises of God, Joshua could be strong and of good courage. God’s power and presence was with Him. What about us? I still get nervous every time I speak. However, I know God is there and He gives me strength and courage. God is with you too. We all have His power through the Spirit. His Word guides us as we apply it in our lives. Like Joshua, we too can be strong, confident and courageous knowing the Lord is always with us and He never will let us down. That is so reassuring isn’t it?
In a philosophy class, the professor stood before his students with a large jar. He filled the jar with five large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full. The students said, “yes, it sure is.” He poured pebbles in the jar and lightly shook it until the pebbles filled in all the open areas between the rocks. He asked, “how about now?” The students said it was full. The professor then poured sand into the jar and the sand filled in the tiny spaces between the rocks and the pebbles. See, the jar represents all that is in one’s life. The rocks are the most important things: God, family, health, etc. The pebbles represent the things in life that matter, but we could live without. The pebbles are certainly things that give our lives meaning (hobbies, friendships, etc.); but they are not critical for us to have a meaningful life. These things often come and go, and are not essential to our overall well-being. Finally, the sand represents the remaining tiny things in our lives, such as material possessions, watching television or doing errands. These things don't mean much to our lives as a whole, and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.
So, what happens if we put the sand and pebbles in first? Will we have room for the rocks? No. We cannot fill our lives with all the “pebbles” and “sand’ and expect our lives to have room from all the more important things in life, such as faith, family and good health. In other words, we cannot pursue both God’s will and our own independent will. We have to empty ourselves of one in order to fully embrace the other. When our hearts are surrendered and trusting in God, our desires will align with God’s and our joy will be made full. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you ever trusted someone with a secret? This secret was very important to you and needed to be kept, but the one in whom you trusted to keep it, told someone else? Although, it has been said certain secrets are made to be revealed at a later time, one should be trustworthy to “keep it quiet” in regards to the one who trusted them.
Jesus often told His disciples to not let others know about Who He was (Matthew 16:20). He also told those whom He healed to keep it between them, like he said to the leper, “See that you tell no one, but go your way...” (Matthew 8:4). This is known to be the Messianic Secret. Why would Jesus not want anyone to know that He is God’s Son and has the power to heal? First of all, Jesus knew that it was not time for them to know. They were not ready for it. A good example would be Peter. See, the apostles did not understand certain things yet, especially the spiritual things that Jesus had to do, which was to go to Jerusalem to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, scribes and to be killed and raised the third day. Peter even pulled Jesus to the side to rebuke Him that this should not happen (Matthew 16:21-23). This was one of the reasons as to why they needed to not tell anyone. Second, in the case of the leper, such a miracle being revealed would hinder Christ’s mission and divert public attention from His message. Imagine how many would flock to see Jesus and to be healed? This actually was the case after the leper could not keep quiet. His disobedience of telling others Jesus healed him, caused Jesus to move His ministry away from the city to the desert regions (Mark 1:45). Revealing a secret can have major implications.
Today, we are not to keep the secret, concerning who Jesus is. We are expected by God to share the gospel, to let others know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18); that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6); that salvation is found in no other (Acts 4:12). Are you sharing Christ, or keeping Him a secret?
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