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Friday, May 21, 2010

Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.


Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 8:40-48

In this story we see two people who ask Jesus for help. For this study, we will concentrate on the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. It says that this woman was like this for 12 years and nobody could heal her. It says in Mark that she tried for many years, many different ointments, potions, doctors, etc and none of them helped her. In fact, they made her worse. In this culture, this woman would have been considered unceremoniously "unclean." She would have to do some ritual to cleanse herself after she stopped bleeding in order to be acceptable to society. After 10 days, she could be considered "clean." Nobody could speak to her, touch her, be with her, acknowledge her, etc until she was "clean." Of course in her case, the bleeding did not stop for 12 years, so she could not get "clean." She was a social outcast who desperately wanted back into society. We know this because she tried many things to get clean. It says in Mark that it took all her money and she was at the end of the rope. Not only that, in this culture, it was not just her who was "unclean." Anyone who touched her became "unclean." Anything that she touched became "unclean." For instance, if she sat down on a chair, the chair was unclean. If someone else then sat on that chair, they would be unclean and shunned from society for at least 10 days while they did the ritual to get clean. You can imagine how lonely she was and desperate for acceptance. Ok, so what are we talking about here? One woman with her "unclean" problem? Yes. ...but we are also talking about me and you and everyone else that has a "sin" problem...

Notice all the ways that her story is our story:

Being "unclean" affected every part of her life. This followed her around where ever she went, who ever she talked to, whatever she did, the uncleanliness was there. It infected every aspect of her life. Just like sin in your life.

This ailment of hers was degenerative. It progressively got worse and worse. Just like sin will do. At first the sin is so small you might not even notice it. Then, after you give in a few times, it gets easier and easier to justify your actions until finally you become hardened to it.

This uncleanliness was costly for her. It cost her all her money, all her relationships, everything she touched. Just like sin in your life will eventually do. If you do nothing about your sin, in the end, it will destroy you.

This uncleanliness was embarrassing for her. Just like sin in your life. Many times our sin is something that only we and God know about. If other people found out, it would be very embarrassing for us.

There was nothing she or anyone that she sought could do to cure her. There is no good deed you can do. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make up for your sin and heal yourself.

And most important of all, this uncleanliness separated her from her friends, family, and all of society. Sin separates us from God. God is Holy Holy Holy and cannot be with sin. They are oil and water. So if you carry sin, you are separated from God. You will eventually be separated from everyone and God's society (Heaven.)

So that is the problem, now back the story... This part is amazing... Put yourself in this scene. When you see what happens here, you will see an "Oh Wow!" moment. Understanding this scene is what makes Bible study so incredible. There is a huge crowd. People are everywhere. There are no body guards. There is no stage with a partition. There is just Jesus and tons of people all pressing together to get to him. It is a big mosh pit. Jesus is being touched and shoved and squished from all directions. There would be no way for any of us to discern one shove from another. Jesus is not saying, "back off. Give me some room. I can't breathe here!" He is just letting it all happen. Then somehow this girl crawls through the bustling crowd and manages to touch the very end of his "clothing." It is not even him that she touches, just the end of his robe. Instantly Jesus stops and turns around, and says, "Who just touched me?" Imagine being there. Everyone looks around with a dumbfounded look on their face. They look from one another as if to say, "duh." Finally one of them has the gumption to add, "...ah, Jesus, people are touching you all over..."

However, this touch was different and of course Jesus knew that. This girl, after all else had failed, finally decided to turn to God for healing. She thought, "If I can just touch him, I will be healed." (Mark) She tried to fix her problem for 12 years and had just made it worse. She did all she could and it was not enough. She finally realized that what could heal her was to fall on her knees and find healing with Jesus. Instantly her bleeding stopped. This is the only way to heal the sin in your life. There is nothing else that can be done. It is only through God's grace that you can be made "clean." You can either learn the hard way and try yourself for 12-20-50 years, or you can learn the easy way from the example God gives us in this Bible story.

That alone is a good lesson, but there is one more thing and it is my favorite part of the story. Remember that she is "unclean." Anything she touches is "unclean." Nobody will talk to her, be with her, even acknowledge her, because in this society, they would then be shunned too. But what does Jesus do? This is the order in the Bible: She touched him. She was healed. ...Then Jesus asked, "who touched me." He could have let her go and be healed in quiet. Undoubtedly she would not want to draw attention to herself because she was "unclean." She would have certainly touched many people on her way to Jesus through the crowd. But Jesus did not do that. He publically calls her out. He says, “Who just touched me?” She says, “I did Lord.” Then he calls her "daughter." As if to say, "Hey crowd, this woman whom you think is unclean, just touched me, and I'm proud of her. She has faith, and she is my daughter." He not only acknowledged that she had touched him, but he builds her up in front of the crowd. He says, "I got your back." ...Ain't he great?

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to www.goodfaithpeople.ning.com.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Luke 8:22-25, “Why the Storm?" A Bible Study Devotion.



Luke 8:22-25, “Why the Storm?" A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 8:22-25

There are many, many studies on this passage. Most of them teach this general lesson: When you encounter the storms of life, Jesus will be there with you. However, when I went over these verses the Good Lord pointed out the first line in the passage to me. It normally is overlooked, but it has tremendous significance. The first verse in the passage is (verse 22) reads: One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." Obviously, we all know that Jesus is omnipotent, so he knows what is going to happen. So in other words, Jesus is the one that places you in the very storm that you need him to rescue you from.

We all know that Jesus allows storms in our lives. That statement is not debatable. Have you had a storm in your life? Ok, then Jesus allowed it. But here it is one step beyond. It is Jesus himself who suggested getting in the boat at all. If he knows there is going to be a storm, and he knows you are going to be terrified, why does he place you there? The answer is "testing."

• Deuteronomy 13:3 NIV
You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

• Ezekiel 21:13 NIV
" 'Testing will surely come. And what if the scepter [of Judah], which the sword despises, does not continue? Declares the Sovereign Lord.'

• Luke 8:13 NIV
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

• Hebrews 3:8 NIV
Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,

• John 6:6 NIV
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

• 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test.


This is a small sample. There are several verses about testing by God, Jesus. Ever hear of Abraham? So why does he test you? Look to the book of James: James 1:3,”because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." So this is great news. God is trying to develop your perseverance. ...but even better news, look to James 1:2. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." You might think, "Why is God doing this to me?" When you should consider it Joy... Why? Because when you are in a storm, you MUST rely on God to pull you out. Think back in your life. When were you the closest to God? When times were good or when times were bad? God wants us to rely on him.

Have you ever been a storm of life and thought, "where is God in all of this?" Read the rest of the passage. He is in the boat with you. He may appear to be sleeping, but he could just be testing your faith. So next time you are in a storm and you pray that God will bring you through right now, stop and consider that He might want you right there. Instead, pray for God to show you what he wants you to learn. Look at this; this will give you the hope and faith that you need. Again in verse 22, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." The storms happen on the journey. Jesus put them on that journey. But what is the destination that Jesus invites? It is on the other side of the lake, or the other side of the storm. He did not say, "Let's go out into deep water and stay there..." His destination from the start is the other side of the lake. Remember next time you are in your storm, the destination Jesus calls you to is on the other side...

So after the disciples wake Jesus up and he rebukes the storm, he says to them, “Where is your faith?" Did they learn what Jesus wanted them to learn? It would not appear so. It is good to know this before your next storm comes. Don't get to a place where, God says to you, "Where is your faith?" Remember the lesson we can learn from this story so you are prepared when the rain comes. Lean on God...persevere... And instead have God say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

Don't get too down on the disciples though: They did follow Jesus when he said, "Let's go...” They did call on him when things got rough. I wonder how long they stayed in that storm before waking Jesus? I wonder if they debated among themselves whether or not to wake him?

...coming soon, The Disciples Don't Deserve their Bad Rep..."

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to www.goodfaithpeople.ning.com.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playground Rules: Part 2 – Quack Quack Seat Back!



Playground Rules: Part 2 – Quack Quack Seat Back!

The other night in my small group we were studying the book of James. We came across this passage which inspired this blog post:

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Let me define “Playground Rules.” When I say playground rules, I don’t mean a list of dos and don’ts posted in your child’s school.
1. No running
2. No fighting
3. No gum chewing

I am talking about the unwritten laws that govern the playground to which kids naturally gravitate. These rules are not explained in class. They are not posted anywhere on paper in the school. However, they are understood by everyone. They emulate real life much more than the artificial “laws” posted by the idealistic higher ups. Yes I know… although to some this is ugly, they have bullies, fights, name calling, etc. Some learn to play the playground well, others not so well. Some people have an “unfair” advantage, some a disadvantage. It is not a place show weakness; however strength comes in many forms. Having good contacts is the key to success. Lasting memories, friends, and experience are the gift to be taken away. Sound like real life? You can try to “beat” this truth with laws and rules and “fairness,” but it is futile. This is a broken world filled will sin, and selfishness, and even some “might makes right.” If you try to change this de facto set of playground rules, you might as well try to make the ocean waves go the opposite direction. But… the playground is also a wonderful place to learn respect, camaraderie, and wisdom. Don’t fight it, go with it, and learn how real life works…


Back to the passage: when we read this it made me think of the way my friends and I would handle who sat where at any given time. There are three playground rules that come into play here. First is the shotgun rule. Everyone knows how to play the shotgun game. When a group is walking to the car, the first person to yell, “shotgun” gets the front seat. All others must respect this rule and sit in the back. Next is an I get my seat back when I get up rule. This one is the same premises with most people, but it can have different key phrases. For instance, my friends would, (while still touching their seat) announce, “quack, quack, seat back.” This would ensure that your seat would be saved. All of the others had to respect this rule. There are other statements that apply depending on your particular group and the playground rules they have set forth. Some say, “Jax Max, Savies, Dibs, etc.” They all mean the same thing. The last rule related to this is the Call It rule. For instance, some friends are walking to the house from the car to watch a movie. One of the guys yells out, “I call couch!” Bam, he gets the couch.

See how these rules are perfectly in-line with the passage above? It does not matter if you are rich or poor; you still have to “call it,” or “quack quack,” or “shotgun” it if you want to have your chair. Jesus said don’t favor the rich person. Use playground rules and you will be safe. I know, I know, there is some poindexter professor out there who will try and tell you that this is bunk. He never did learn to play the playground well. Now he is bitter. Again, sound like life?

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to www.goodfaithpeople.ning.com.