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Friday, February 12, 2016

Crushing Jesus


Have you ever felt like God's a gazillion miles away? Or that He's not even there at all? I think we've probably all felt this way at one time or another. But what's the reality of God's nearness to us? How far away is He?


Finding the invisible God


I've often imagined what my life would've been like if I'd lived during other times - the early stages of man's existence, or the wild west in America, or the time when Jesus walked the earth. But I didn't have a say in the matter. So here I am, right where God wants me in 2016.

God determined where you, and everyone else, would be born. And He determined what time in history you would live.

There's one major reason why you were plopped into the circumstances of your life. 

Paul, a follower of Jesus, explained this reason to a crowd in Athens who'd never heard of Jesus. 

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the council on Mars Hill and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you."
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’... " (Acts 17)

Those words I put in bold, especially the bold italics, were given by God through Paul to give you hope.

"Open your eyes. I'm right here."
God created you exactly when and where He wanted you to be so you "would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him." And this is exactly what will eventually happen for all people. If not in this life, in the next. He'll cause you to find Him, even if He has to grab and crank your distracted, reluctant head.  

God is not far from you!

So why does He sometimes (or maybe all the time) seem so far away? The answer lies in the following story.


Suffering woman seeks, reaches for, and finds God


The purpose of the following uplifting true story is to help us find our God, Who is already near.

As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.
She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.”  
Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My clothes?”
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
(Combination of Mark 5:26-34 and Luke 8:42-48)

Awesome story.

The frenzied crowds were nearly crushing Jesus. But only one person in the mass seemed to catch His attention. Someone had sought Him, reached out for Him, and found Him as God desires to happen according to Acts 17:26-27.

A life-changing and life-saving connection had been made between the poor woman and Jesus.


Why some connect with Jesus, and some don't


Was power going out of Jesus to other people in the crowd that were bumping into and nearly crushing Him? It doesn't seem so. If you're merely bumping into Jesus but aren't connected to Him and His power, He's basically "an unknown god" to you, as He was to the Athenians in Acts 17.

So what was it about this suffering woman's touching His clothes that was different from all those who were nearly smothering Him? Faith! According to God's desire in Acts 17:27, she
  • sought Him
  • reached out for Him
  • found Him

    When you do these expecting to make a genuine connection with God - the invisible God will somehow make Himself known to you. And you'll know that you've connected with Him.

    These are three things that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can do to come to know Jesus. I was just an average Joe in my early twenties when I met Jesus in St. Louis Park, Minnesota in the early '90s. Just me and Jesus in my empty one-bedroom apartment. And I haven't been the same since then.

    Are you expectantly doing these three things? This is God's desire for you. And He's crafted the circumstances of your life for it to happen. Why not today? Why not right now, right where you are? Don't move a muscle, except the ones you need to call out to Jesus.

    If you've already connected with God, that's awesome. Stay with Him.


    Power for you


    When power went out of Jesus, the woman received it and greatly benefited. (Don't worry, Jesus won't run out of power. There's plenty for everyone.)

    But when you don't know Him, you don't experience His power.

    When someone comes to Jesus with faith, they receive a unique, supernatural power directly from Jesus. He's got a monopoly on this power. You can't buy it. You can't sell it. Jesus gives it freely to those who seek Him, reach for Him, and find Him. And His power can do amazing things. For this woman it was physical healing. And I'm sure she was healed emotionally also. Wouldn't you love to talk with her and hear her whole story?

    This power also connects us to Jesus so that we know He's near us, even when we may not feel that He is. It's like my relationship with my wife. I always know she loves me, but I don't always get a tingly feeling about it (but sometimes my heart does beat a little faster when I think about her). I would rather know that she loves me than be dependent on fickle feelings to prove her love to me. I can always know, but I don't always feel.


    "I tried the Jesus thing and it didn't work."


    I don't know your exact situation. But I've heard people say they "tried" Jesus and it didn't work. Some of these people merely went into a church building expecting something magical to happen. And nothing happened other than them adding Jesus to their list of things that don't work. They may have very well been in a dead church where Jesus wasn't the focus at all. There could have been other factors that prevented them from connecting with Jesus.
    Seek Him, reach for Him, find Him

    Notice in the story above that the suffering woman didn't go to the synagogue for healing (though she may have tried this earlier). She'd tried things that had no power for 12 long years, and she grew worse. Finally, she went directly to Jesus, because she knew He was the One with the power she needed. He was her last hope. And she was healed.

    Have you gone directly to Jesus? Or have you simply done some religious stuff - where there is zero power - and gave up.

    Or maybe you've done religious stuff for many years, and you still don't know Jesus and His power. Notice above in Acts 17:22-23 that the Athenians were "very religious," but they didn't know God.

    Where are you placing your hope for healing, power and salvation? Are you trying everything except Jesus? If so, how's that working out? He's still there, not far from you - seek Him, reach out for Him, find Him.

    What does Jesus have in store for you when you come to Him? Love, power, grace, forgiveness, relationship, peace, hope, new life, and so much more. I can try to explain it, but you need to experience it.


    Sincerely,
    Wes

    P.S. Never forget this: You are the offspring of the living, loving, almighty God.





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