Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Effective Prayer

For blind Bartimeus it was just another day to earn his living by begging, after all, what else could a blind man really do? However, his ears had compensated for his blindness as he grew more attentive, and he knew something unusual was happening this day. He grasped the robe of a passerby and asked what all the commotion was about. Jesus is coming through. Bartimeus had heard of Jesus, and what’s more he heard that he healed blind people. Immediately, he desperately cried out: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those around him tried to shut him up but he only cried the more loudly (Luke 18:33-39).

Desperation eliminates the inhibitions and enables a person to do everything they possibly can. It has a sense of urgency that won’t be put off. For this man, it meant crying out at the top of his lungs. Bartimeus knew his own need. He may have been blind in physical sight, but he could see inside, and he knew he needed Jesus’ touch. He had spiritual sight. The worse blindness is when a person doesn’t know their own neediness of God’s touch in their life.

Bartimeus teaches us how to do effective prayer. First, he recognized his own need and called out to Jesus. He did so with persistence regardless of who tried to shut him up. He also had a sense of urgency that was brimming with enthusiasm. Nothing quenches prayer like indifference. God loves it when people get exciting about finding him. Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). It is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt 5:6).

Jesus’ response was remarkable. Despite the fact that there were thousands of people following him and many other needy people, he stopped for Bartimeus (Luke 18:40-43). Jesus stops and answers the prayer for mercy that is persistent and urgent and not the indifferent and arrogant prayer.

Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you” (Luke 18:41). Jesus wanted him to articulate his need, and that is exactly what prayer is all about. The blind man was ready and said, "Lord, I want to see” (Luke 18:41). The story of blind Bartimeus is a window into prayer. When we cry for mercy with sincere and persistent hearts, the savior will hear our cries. Jesus said to the man, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Luke 18:42). This was no extraordinary faith, just simple faith well placed—in Jesus Christ as the healer and savior.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Burning Hearts

Death inevitably strikes a universal fear in every human heart. Those who stood near the hill of Golgotha that Friday when Jesus was crucified felt the sting of that fear. They saw and heard him speak his last words. Then they saw him breathe his last breath and fall limp as he hung on the cross. There were so many emotions churning inside their hearts that day. They felt disappointment, confusion, loss and helplessness.

It seemed impossible to process what they had seen. Jesus was their Messiah, the one who was going to bring deliverance, but now he was dead. Jesus was already in his grave. Early Sunday morning some women went to finish preparing the body of Jesus because there hadn’t been enough time on Friday. They worried how they would remove the stone. When they arrived they found the tomb empty and the stone rolled away. Still none of them could fathom the idea of resurrection. Even after angels announced to them that Jesus had risen, they couldn’t comprehend it. Not even the disciples realized the thought of resurrection, despite the fact that Jesus had told them on several occasions that he would die and then be resurrected. It seems that it is almost impossible for the human heart to grasp the idea of resurrection. No wonder they never expected Jesus to rise from the dead, but he did!

The resurrected Jesus came alongside two disciples on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They didn’t know it was Jesus. They shared as Jesus listened.  They told him that Jesus was their hero. He was a powerful prophet who spoke like no one who had ever lived. He had touched their hearts with his words and miracles. He was courageous and stood up to the chief priests like no else was able to do. We had hoped that Jesus would set us free from Roman rule and become our king, but now he is dead.

The whole desperate situation seemed to have no explanation, but Jesus came to give them one. They were looking for answers, and Jesus didn’t leave them to wander in their perplexity but came near to explain the unexplainable. Jesus listened to them before he talked. Isaiah said that he had come to bind up the brokenhearted, and no one does such a wonderful job as he does here.

No matter how many pieces of the puzzle are missing from your life, Jesus is the one who can show you the big picture. It doesn’t matter what you’ve lost, Jesus can put the pieces you do have together in a way that finally makes sense. If you are living with hopelessness, it’s time to let Jesus give you hope.

After Jesus talked with them, they said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32). I don’t know if you have ever felt what Cleopas and the other disciple described here at this moment, but if you have come to know Jesus, then you have. When you finally realize that Jesus died for you and was resurrected and that he is alive—your heart is set aflame.

Friday, April 14, 2017


We all know what it is like to buy something, take it home and start putting it together only to realize that it is missing something. The solution is simply to take it back to the store and replace it with another one that is complete. That may work okay with things, but it doesn’t work too well with our children. Our children need certain principles taught to them as they are growing up or they will flounder in adulthood. Accountability is one of those principles missing in so many people’s lives today.

Accountability is the concept that teaches us that we are answerable to someone. First to God, then to our parents and to those who are in authority. Learning to be accountable is a quality that will help a child be a better spouse, a better parent, a better employee and a better friend. We all need accountability because it helps hold us in check. Without it we would be like the water in a river without levees. Accountability helps keep us honest, faithful and responsible with our time and with other people’s money and resources.

When a child becomes school-age and he or she understands accountability, they will do much better in hearing and following instructions from their teachers. It will be that way on the job and set them apart from others who are not accountable. Later, when they are married, it will help them be accountable to each other, thereby helping them to enjoy their marriage much more.

One of the reasons we are seeing so many problems with young people in school today is the absence of accountability. Early sexual exploration by teens foolishly exposes them to dangerous STD’s and emotional depression. This is happening because they feel completely unaccountable to their parents. Most of these young people live to regret their premature sexual activity because they weren’t ready cognitively or emotionally. If they had been taught accountability, they would have been spared the STD’s and the deep emotional pain they suffer.

One of the reasons so many marriages are failing is because these young people grow into adults and know nothing of accountability. Unaccountable adults blame all their problems on other people, their parents, their teachers, their spouses and even the government. This unaccountability invites misery and leads to personal failure. Accountability requires us to achieve better results and be a better person. Ultimately, when we are accountable to God, we will be accountable to others.