John 5: 5-9
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
I wonder what the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethsaida thought when Jesus told him to stand up. Did he realize that this was going to mean a costly change in his life? No more letting other people take care of him – he would now be expected to do some things for himself. Did he realize that this was going to mean that he no longer would be able to beg? From now on, he would be expected to contribute to helping those who truly could not do for themselves. Perhaps that’s why Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made well?”
When Jesus calls us to continue his work in the world it’s sometimes easy to think, “let the rich people do it”, “let the young people do it”, “let the retirees do it”, or “let those with more time do it”. But that sort of thinking – while making things easier for us – cheats us of a marvelous experience that is truly life-changing. We get to “stand up” and participate in the work of Jesus! I’m sure the paralyzed man who was healed that day long ago would say, “yes, it was a change… and yes, it came with a cost… but it was worth it!”
Prayer: Healer of our every ill, come into my life and help me see where I am weak, paralyzed by fear or doubt, and downright lazy in letting others to do what you could also do through me. Give me courage when I hear those words that echo through history, “Take up your mat and walk.”
Genesis 17:17-19 (NRSV)
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live in your sight!” God said, “No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.
In a recent sermon, our pastor made a point that “finding our purpose and calling is a never-ending process”. Those who are young are often asked “what are you going to be when you grow up?” and college students are used to answering “what are you going to major in?” But those of us who are older should also be asking the question, “what’s next, Lord? What plans do you have for me in the weeks, months, and years that are ahead?”
The Bible says, “without vision, the people perish.” Even if lack of vision for the future does not kill us physically, it can cause us to “perish” in other ways: intellectually, relationally, and spiritually. The Bible’s story of Abraham and Sarah tells us that even when we’re “past our prime”, God can bring new life from us. Do you see yourself as someone who is just about finished, or someone through whom God may accomplish yet more?
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you continually lead us forward through time. Help me see the vision that you have for me and my life, as I seek to serve you where I am. In your name I pray, Amen.
Matthew 4:19-20 (The Message)
Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.
The disciples could not possibly have known all of what following Jesus would mean – for them and the world. It’s probably a good thing that they didn’t – they might not have followed!
This is the first day of a month-long adventure of prayer that our church is undertaking. What will you experience? What will you say to God? What will God say to you? Could it be that we, like those early disciples, might be transformed, taught, and grown into the kind of people that Jesus entrusts to carry on his work? Sometimes, the best response we can make it to simply trust Jesus, and follow.
Lord Jesus, thank you for not only calling Mary and Martha and James and John, but for also calling me. As I begin this adventure of prayer may I learn from you, walk with you, and learn what it means to follow your example in new ways. Amen.
The teaching of scripture and the example of Jesus call us to pray. We are asking every member of our congregation to join us in a special 28 day effort of praying for God’s help, guidance, and wisdom during this season. Will you please join us in praying that our church leadership will see and follow God’s vision for our church? Will you join in praying that God’s Holy Spirit will fill our worship, mission, and outreach so that the very presence of Christ empowers all that we do? Will you pray for a season of renewal, refreshment, and joy as we enter the holy season of Advent?
Each day, we will send you an e-mail devotional that we hope will enrich your spiritual life and draw all of us closer in community and faithfulness as God’s people. Please feel free to forward these to a friend and encourage them to sign up for these daily reflections.