Jesus Actively Helps Me

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“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT

These two verses out of Hebrews 4 establish three things.

  • We are “criminals” and in need of representation.
  • Jesus Christ stands ready, and able to help us before both this world and to the one to come.
  • Jesus still has a present day ministry as our priest and provider.

And he is busy! He did not ascend to heaven to wait around for his second coming. He is active, and we are being acted upon. This is the present work of heaven.

There is more, let’s look to the story of Paul’s voyage to Rome. He is a prisoner being escorted to stand before Caesar. He has a guard who is watching him as he travels by ship across much of the Mediterranean.

Because of the time of the year, the trip will be hard. The weather is very iffy, and awful storms could pummel a ship at times. No matter what, it will be a hard journey.

 “When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. So they pulled up anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete. 14 But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. 15 The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale.”

16 “We sailed along the sheltered side of a small island named Cauda, where with great difficulty we hoisted aboard the lifeboat being towed behind us. 17 Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.”

Acts 27:13-17, NLT

The storm is probably a once in a lifetime experience. It seems everyone is problem-solving trying to keep the ship from “breaking up.” They are fighting for their lives. After tossing over the cargo, and the ships tackle, they would have cut down the mast. Leaving it up would only weaken the ship’s hull, which reduces their chances.

They then did something called “frapping.” It involved wrapping ropes or cables around the hull in a criss-cross manner. This outside strengthening would have been “levered” to increase tightness. It could be an effective way of surviving the unsurvivable.

There is a specific Greek word to describe this frapping. It is used in only one other place in the entire Bible. In Hebrews 4:16 we read–

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Can you see the connection? In those desperate times when the storm is ripping up everything, attempting to destroy us– our families, our friends and neighbors. Just survival seems a long stretch. It is then that Jesus fraps (or wraps) us tightly.

But many of us go through typhoons with the cables coiled up on deck. We seem oblivious and ignorant of its existence. We really don’t see the “present tense’ ministry of Jesus standing to intercede. We merit nothing– but are promised everything. We are on the knife’s edge of falling apart.

I believe this message has not come to you by accident. You are either in the storm, or know someone who is there. The name of this post is, “Jesus Actively Helps Me.” I hope you will see it, and live it.

ybic, Bryan

 

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When Angels Stand Amazed

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“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

~Barbara Bloom

Just a short word of encouragement to all my suffering brothers and sisters.  I believe God loves you (not a cliche) and has a tremendous plan for you.  Scripture tells us that we will reign with Him (and the last time I looked, there is no disqualification for being mentally ill).  Having suffered through your whole life will be just an enhancement, a bonus when you finally are held by Jesus, in His arms.

Those of us who struggle with depression, mania, and paranoia know a lot about cracks and brokenness.  Mixed states, anxiety, and social withdrawal all have taken their toll. Some of us hear voices. Addictions and suicide attempts have made up our past life (and even sometimes try to intrude on the present.)

Some have physical disabilities. They have come to worship from their wheelchairs. Some are deaf, others are blind. But they come still.

I have a dear friend with advancing Alzheimers who understands little of what is happening to her,  but she still worships God with the rest of the congregation. Before the dementia she was a spiritual marvel.  Without a doubt one of the astonishing women I had ever met. Now however, when she raises her hands, I believe the angels step back in a deep awe.  I just realized this, the angels understand worship, they really do. BUT, they do not understand worship out of weakness and brokenness.

Let us worship God with our cracks and brokenness.  In John 12, a woman breaks open a jar of nard on Jesus feet, while the other disciples hang back and complain.  But always remember this dear one–it is only by being poured out that one can release the perfume.

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The Test of a Profound Silence, [Extreme Faith]

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But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Matthew 15:23, NLT

This is exceptional.  Jesus is always engaging people around him.  He teaches and preaches, fully energized by the Holy Spirit.  He is a veritable hurricane of goodness and love.  He heard every request, and healed every disease.  But yet.  On this occasion he is completely silent.

The woman’s piteous crying, and begging was seemingly ignored.  “If Jesus won’t respond to me, I will go to his followers.”  She presses, and cajoles.  She falls on her knees.  Have you ever seen a person truly beg?  It is a very disconcerting experience.  Yet, Jesus does nothing, in spite of being able to do all things.

She is a Canaanite; a pagan widow, and her daughter was demonized.  Curiously, there was a large heathen temple to Eshmun, the Canaanite god of healing, was just three miles down the road.  But her desperate cry was for something real.  Something authentic and real that would heal her daughter’s affliction.  Only Jesus has what she needs.

Jesus is astonishingly silent.  He stands and sees, he hears her cries.  She is sobbing, clutching at the disciples robes, disheveled and distressed.  It was a desperate scene. Very ugly and very sad.

Jesus responds to his disciple’s plea.  Then there is something that seems like a negotiation.  A protracted conversation with a ‘seemingly’ reluctant Messiah.  It is somewhat disturbing as we listen.  Jesus seems to treat her callously.  I have always been mystified by this, troubled by his behavior. I can only conclude that what he did was necessary in some way.

But the Son of God sees through this. 

And then she makes an incredible statement.  Jesus is suddenly amazed at her faith in him.  This faith is what he has been waiting to see. She may have known despair, but that isn’t enough. Jesus leads her from the edge. Until she moved to a position of belief, nothing will change. Faith seems to change everything.  This is key.  It isn’t her words that alters things– it is her heart!  At that moment, Jesus declares a healing for her daughter.  She is now free from the demon’s grip.

So often I have also felt the pressure from the darkness.  I am often embattled and driven into a despair that seems to cripple me.  But Jesus is waiting for me, to come to him through an unflinching faith.  My good works can never, ever be enough.  I’m just like a dog, waiting for food under the table.  I have little, if any, decorum or sophistication.  There is nothing at all, to commend me to him. Nothing at all.

“Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplications He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive heaven’s gifts and blessings.”

–J.R. Miller

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