Do You?

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6


Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 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 going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:2-9)

 

Does the question Jesus asked the man at Bethesda surprise you? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious?  This man has suffered for nearly 40 years, surely he wanted to be healed!

The man was likely as surprised by Jesus’ question as we were. Rather than answer the question, he began to make excuses and we can almost hear the sarcasm in his voice – “Of course I want to be healed, if I didn’t I wouldn’t keep coming back here year after year.  You don’t seem to understand my circumstances.  Look at me.  I’m crippled, it’s a long way down to the pool, and there are all these other people who can move a lot faster than I can.”

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 going another steps down before me.” (John 5:7)

Almost as if he didn’t hear the man, Jesus pressed on.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)

Like the crippled man, we get it into our minds that God’s power is limited by our circumstances. That’s wrong thinking. Even when our faith fails, God does not.  Look closely at the sequence in the next verse.

And at once the man was healed, and (then) he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:9)

Throughout His ministry, Jesus asked many “Do You” questions.  The questions He asked in ages past are relevant for us today.  They are questions that each of us must answer for ourselves.

When we need faith

“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

“Why do you question these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8)

When we need help

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)

When we need answers

“Do you not understand?” (Mark 4:13)

“Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4)

Every day

“ do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15)

 

Thinking back on all the “do you” questions Jesus has asked me through the years, I realize how often I gave excuses instead of answers.  Like the man in these passages, there have been many times that I was crippled by past experiences and overcome by present circumstances; there still are.  I’m so glad that God is not a God of circumstances, aren’t you?

~Sandra

 

Parting Thoughts

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  

            “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

            “Woman, behold, your son!”  “Behold, your mother!”

 Read the final words of Jesus.  Think about all He had suffered, just before He spoke them.  In the garden, sweating blood as He anticipated the agony of what lay ahead.  The betrayal of His closest friends.  Merciless beatings, severe enough in and of themselves, to have caused His death.  Scorn from those, who just days earlier, had honored and praised Him as their king.  The humiliation of being mocked, spit upon, and stripped naked.  The torture of being nailed to a cross and finally, bearing the full sin of all mankind upon His sinless body.

Read Jesus’ words again.  Do you see it?  At His height of suffering, Jesus prays for the ones who drove the nails into His feet and hands.  In the midst of His agony, He offers eternal assurance to a repentant man.  He ignores His horrific pain, to insure His Mother will be cared for.

 It is only after He has seen to the needs of others that He turns His attention to His own suffering.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

            “I thirst.”

Even then, as Christ desperately cries out to His Father, I can’t help but wonder if He wasn’t thinking about us.  Are there any of us who have not, at some time in our lives, called out to God “why have you abandoned me”?  Haven’t all of us been through a dry season and longed for a cool stream to refresh our parched spirits.

Jesus’ pleas were heard.  And so are ours as He declared, once and for all…

“It is finished”

Nothing more to be done.  Nothing else needed  All the requirements fulfilled.

Final words, final assurance.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” 

To anyone who has ever stood by the bed of a loved one as they took their final breath, these are words of comfort.  They promise us that He who knit us in our Mother’s womb is there, waiting to receive our spirit.  These words confirm that Jesus has defeated death.  We can have confidence that His spirit, having returned to the Father, will live eternally and so will ours.  In this final statement, we have God’s ultimate promise and our ultimate hope.

At no other time in recorded scripture do we see Jesus’ humanity so evidently revealed.  In the final hours at Calvary, we see Jesus, fully God, fully man.  The One who knew no sin, became the embodiment of sin.

Seven statements from the cross. Parting thoughts.   Thoughts of you and me.

In Jesus’ last words, we have the entire gospel message.  The message of forgiveness, eternal life, love for one another, His righteousness imparted to us.  It is a message important enough for Jesus to die for; shouldn’t it be important enough for us to live for?  Knowing He did all this for us, how can we do less for Him?

Blessings,

~Sandra


Father, never let us forget what the Easter season is really about.  Keep us mindful of the horrors of the cross and the sufferings we have been spared because Jesus suffered for us.  Always remind us that even in His final hours, we were never far from Jesus’ thoughts.  Above all, place deep within our minds the truth of the victory that was won for us that day at Calvary; and deep within our hearts a desire to share the message with those who remain lost.  Amen.


Christ died so we can live.  His sacrifice at Calvary is for everyone who will come and follow Him.  Have you made that commitment?  Have you knelt at the foot of the cross and surrendered your heart to the One Who died for your sins?  If you haven’t, there will never be a better time than now.

All you need to do is pray:

Confess to Jesus that you are a sinner who needs salvation

Believe in your heart that He is only One who can save you

 Ask Jesus to forgive your sins

Surrender your life and your will to Him

Ask Him give you a new heart, and a new spirit

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)

On the table next to my bed there is a picture of my Mamma and me; it was taken in 2010, the last Mother’s Day we spent together.  It’s all so confusing.  In some ways it’s unbelievable that in a couple weeks it will have been five years since we made that picture. The memory of her is so fresh I can almost hear her laughter;  and yet, the emptiness in my heart feels like an eternity.

I can’t help but wonder if things would have been different if I had known then that if would be our last Mother’s Day. Would I have lingered just a little longer before saying goodbye?  Would I have given her one more kiss, held her hand for a minute more, told her one more time I loved her?  Of course, we can never know about those things, it wouldn’t be right to know.  I can only hope that in spite of all that Alzheimer’s had stolen from her, that she knew she was my Mamma.  I hope she knew what a special lady she was and how much she was loved and admired, .

One of my favorite devotions, written for her that same year she passed, is “The Red Purse”.  I like to share it each Mother’s Day in honor of her and as a reminder of how blessed I am to have known her .  I pray you will be blessed.

The Red Purse

Sandra Bivens Smith

©2010

Turning 60 had a profound effect on me. It seemed that everything either sagged, wrinkled or just plain quit working. Aside from the changes my body experienced, I notice some changes mentally as well. Thinking more about today and worrying less about tomorrow became easier; after all as one gets older, it becomes a fact of life that today is pretty much all you’ve got. And, I bought a red purse. Now, you would have to know me to appreciate what a big step that was. As I am pretty much a black, white, and navy blue kind of gal, purchasing a big red pocket-book was a bold move. Over the past couple years, that red purse has become a dear friend. As constant companions, we have come to know and depend on each other. Like me, she is becoming worn in spots and more than a little frayed around the edges. Her zipper doesn’t work quite as smoothly and her lining is ripped.

My daughter constantly mentions that I need to replace my red purse. “I like it” I tell her, “there is nothing wrong with my purse”. “But Mom”, she says, “the stitching is coming loose and the leather is worn down. It’s all worn out.” She’s right. It is all worn out. But in spite of how frayed it is on the outside, my red purse still serves a purpose. I can still put all my treasures inside with confidence that they will be secure. It still carries my eyeglasses, phone, tissue, lipstick, and a myriad of other “necessities”, and rarely complains about the strain.

We live in a world where the new and improved is mostly preferred over the old and proven. It’s like that with people as well. The world looks at those who have become frayed and worn on the outside and judge that their usefulness is spent. But, if they would just take the time to look on the inside, they would discover treasures. They would find a bounty of experience, wisdom, counsel; and wealth that can only come from living.

This attitude toward the aged is not new. As King David was in the later years of life and faced his son Absalom’s rebellion to take over the kingdom, David prayed, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalms 71:9).

My Mamma now lives in a nursing home with many others who, like her, have lived out the better part of their lives. She has advanced dementia and can barely speak in sentences. Her eyesight has failed so that she can barely see and her legs are so weak they can hardly support her frail frame. It would be easy to spend a few minutes with her and conclude that she has nothing to offer. I know better. All those years of living, learning, and experiencing are still inside her mind. Just because she has lost the ability to express her wisdom, doesn’t mean she no longer has it. Thinking back to Mamma’s advice through the years, advice which most of the time, (regrettably) I ignored, I wish with all my heart, I could ask her just one more time what she thought. You see, it’s now clear; Mamma was right about most everything. It is no longer possible to ask her for her thoughts, but it is not too late to seek her advice. How Mamma lived, how she loved, has taught me more about life than all the world could ever hope to teach me.

Do you want to know what’s important? Spend time with those who have actually lived life. Do you want to learn how to get through the trials of life? Visit with someone who has gone through season after season and survived the storms that came with each one. Do you want to be wise? Watch and learn from those who have gained wisdom that can only come from the experiences of living through good times and hard times.

Start your own “Red Purse Society”. Seek out those whose leather is worn and whose stitching is loose; look inside and I promise, you will find great treasure.

Parting Thoughts

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  

            “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

            “Woman, behold, your son!”  “Behold, your mother!”

 Read the final words of Jesus.  Think about all He had suffered, just before He spoke them.  In the garden, sweating blood as He anticipated the agony of what lay ahead.  The betrayal of His closest friends.  Merciless beatings, severe enough in and of themselves, to have caused His death.  Scorn from those, who just days earlier, had honored and praised Him as their king.  The humiliation of being mocked, spit upon, and stripped naked.  The torture of being nailed to a cross and finally, bearing the full sin of all mankind upon His sinless body.

Read Jesus’ words again.  Do you see it?  At His height of suffering, Jesus prays for the ones who drove the nails into His feet and hands.  In the midst of His agony, He offers eternal assurance to a repentant man.  He ignores His horrific pain, to insure His Mother will be cared for.

 It is only after He has seen to the needs of others that He turns His attention to His own suffering.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

            “I thirst.”

Even then, as Christ desperately cries out to His Father, I can’t help but wonder if He wasn’t thinking about us.  Are there any of us who have not, at some time in our lives, called out to God “why have you abandoned me”?  Haven’t all of us been through a dry season and longed for a cool stream to refresh our parched spirits.

Jesus’ pleas were heard.  And so are ours as He declared, once and for all…

“It is finished”

Nothing more to be done.  Nothing else needed  All the requirements fulfilled.

Final words, final assurance.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” 

To anyone who has ever stood by the bed of a loved one as they took their final breath, these are words of comfort.  They promise us that He who knit us in our Mother’s womb is there, waiting to receive our spirit.  These words confirm that Jesus has defeated death.  We can have confidence that His spirit, having returned to the Father, will live eternally and so will ours.  In this final statement, we have God’s ultimate promise and our ultimate hope.

At no other time in recorded scripture do we see Jesus’ humanity so evidently revealed.  In the final hours at Calvary, we see Jesus, fully God, fully man.  The One who knew no sin, became the embodiment of sin.

Seven statements from the cross. Parting thoughts.   Thoughts of you and me.

In Jesus’ last words, we have the entire gospel message.  The message of forgiveness, eternal life, love for one another, His righteousness imparted to us.  It is a message important enough for Jesus to die for; shouldn’t it be important enough for us to live for?  Knowing He did all this for us, how can we do less for Him?

Blessings,

~Sandra


Father, never let us forget what the Easter season is really about.  Keep us mindful of the horrors of the cross and the sufferings we have been spared because Jesus suffered for us.  Always remind us that even in His final hours, we were never far from Jesus’ thoughts.  Above all, place deep within our minds the truth of the victory that was won for us that day at Calvary; and deep within our hearts a desire to share the message with those who remain lost.  Amen.


Christ died so we can live.  His sacrifice at Calvary is for everyone who will come and follow Him.  Have you made that commitment?  Have you knelt at the foot of the cross and surrendered your heart to the One Who died for your sins?  If you haven’t, there will never be a better time than now.

All you need to do is pray:

Confess to Jesus that you are a sinner who needs salvation

Believe in your heart that He is only One who can save you

 Ask Jesus to forgive your sins

Surrender your life and your will to Him

Ask Him give you a new heart, and a new spirit

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

The Planting Season

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.(Isaiah 61:11)


Folks who have a green thumb have always impressed me. I have such warm memories of my grandmother Bivens who each summer had a bountiful vegetable garden.  She would put the green beans and tomatoes into Mason jars to carry her through the winter months; and oh those pickles she made! Grandmother Lingerfelt amazed us at how she would take just a sliver of a plant and grow a beautiful new specimen. In my yard is a cutting of a cutting of a cutting from one of her hydrangea bushes. My husband has the gift of gardening as do both of my sisters; sadly, I do not. But I do like to think about it – preparing the soil, putting the seed or young plant into the hole that’s been dug and then carefully covering it with cool, rich dirt. I think of how he tends the garden and when the season comes, his joy of seeing the fruit of his labor and knowing that God has used his hands to bring new life. Wow!

As spring approaches, and I see farmers preparing their fields, I’ve been thinking a lot about the planting season. I’m reminded of another kind of gardening that those of us who belong to the Lord have been given to do.  Planting this garden doesn’t require a green thumb, only willingness, commitment and obedience.

We’ve been given all the tools we need.  We turn the rocky soil of a wounded heart with the tiller of compassion. The seeds are sown with words of kindness. We make way for the tender sprouts of new life by pulling the weeds of bitterness with acts of love and grace. We water with words of hope, prune with encouragement and keep away the insects that destroy the tender plants with our prayers. And when we’ve done all, the harvest comes and the Lord of the harvest is well pleased.

Just something you might want to consider.

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to end out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)