Tri-focal – Part 1

On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!”And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:6 – 11

Jesus, in the place of meeting and discussion is teaching; in the three years He ministered on earth, Jesus spent hours teaching, explaining and discussing the Word of God with people.  Jesus sees a man with a withered hand.  He also see the scribes and Pharisees watching and He knows what they are thinking – He always knows but knowing does not change what He intends to do, to teach.  He knows my thoughts before I do and the deep desires of my heart.  He knows that sin begins with a  thought and He wants to change me by changing the way I think.

Jesus saw everyone; I love that about Him.  Jesus really sees the least of them, the ones who were wounded inside and out; on this day He sees the man with the withered hand.  How often do I walk past people, barely noticing their existence or worse, deliberately ignoring the person I just don’t want to see or deal with?  Oh God, help me be sensitive to the people right around me, forgive me for the times I have chosen to ignore someone.  Everyone is wounded in some way, hurting, in need of a kind word or prayer, it only takes a few moments.  Jesus notices me, how can I fail to see those He loves and died to save.

Jesus questions the watchers about the law they claimed they knew and zealously argued and upheld; He wants them to see the true purpose of the law was not to condemn but to show our need for a Savior; the law could change behavior but it could not change a heart.  He restores the withered hand and the spirit of the man.  Jesus, the Great Physician the ultimate healer is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Up Next, Focus 2 – The Man

Heart Work

Done!!  Just finished writing thank you notes for some of the gifts I received this Christmas.  The gifts themselves were small things, inexpensive items but quite unexpected; from residents of the apartment complex where I work.  Actually, I am always surprised when anyone gives me a gift, even on those occasions like Christmas when gift exchange is expected, I am surprised at the thoughtfulness of the people in my life.  Of the Five Love Languages, Gifts is not one of mine so getting a gift, especially from someone I hardly know is very surprising to me.  I enjoy giving gifts if I get an inspiration or see something I know is perfect for the recipient, otherwise giving becomes more of a chore since I am not a big fan of shopping malls or stores.

Recently, I was challenged to think about the gift Jesus would like from me.  What gift do I give to the person who quite literally has everything and already has my heart?  The Book of Leviticus contains verse after verse describing in great detail the who, what, why, where, when and how of God’s commands on sacrifices.  There were times bulls, rams, goats, birds and unleavened bread were to be offered.  Sacrifices must be unblemished and without defect.  Different occasions, sins and situations demanded different sacrifices.  All of this seems so alien and odd in today’s culture and to me; it is difficult to relate to and causes my mind heart and stomach to rebel at the thought of so much blood, work and ritual.

The OT God who demanded this level of sacrifice and dedication has not changed but I am not under the old covenant of law but under the new covenant of grace and since it is the same God some form of sacrifice, of gift, seems appropriate but what?

I found my answer in Romans 12:1.

Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies, a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Myself, God wants me, all of me, my heart and my body, I am to be a living sacrifice.  All the OT sacrifices were dead, killed before being placed on the altar, God wants me to place myself on a symbolic altar and by His strength, to stay there when everything in me is screaming to jump off.  God wants me holy as He is holy, Jesus has covered my sin defects and blemishes, my sacrifice is to remain unblemished but when I do sin (and I will) to quickly confess my sin (blemishes and defects).   All of this process, this life style of sacrifice and awareness that I belong to God and am not my own, is worship.

Worship of God as He is, pure, holy, majestic, awesome, just, righteous, merciful, wise, loving, good, long-suffering, infinite, self-sufficient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal.  Worship that no longer follows a ritual or pattern but is from the heart.  Worship is a life lived God’s way, putting God first, others second and myself last.  Worship that only God can inspire and the Holy Spirit enable me to offer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Jesus.  Here is my gift of worship and here is my open and teachable heart;  I can’t do it without you, so teach me how to be a worshipper, offering my humble and flawed spiritual service to you.