Methodless Man

Jesus performed miracles. Lots of miracles. Most people who do a lot of the same thing over and over again come up with a method for doing just that.

When I worked for the bank, my job title was Workflow Specialist. It was my duty to make our necessary processes run as efficiently as possible. We had methods of doing things. We did the same thing the same way every day so that it was easy to teach, easy to learn, and as easy as possible to do. Fewer mistakes are made when you get into a simple routine.

I don’t think Jesus knew about workflow specialists.

In Luke 7:9, Jesus healed a man’s servant simply because the man believed Jesus could do it. Jesus never even met the man he healed.

In verse 14, he touched the coffin of a dead man and the man was raised to life.

In verse 21, Jesus went all to cure many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits and gave sight to many who were blind.

Jesus was consistent in what he did, but now how he did it. Maybe he got bored with just touching people. A little spit and dust would certainly stir things up. Or maybe, he needed to avoid a particular method so that the Pharisees and other religious fanatics wouldn’t latch on to any particular way of performing a miracle and try to replicate the method.

Admit it. When something works out really well for you one time, you try to replicate the circumstances the next time you go to do it. If it works just as well the second time, you may start to refine your method for even better results.

Jesus didn’t do that. There is no one method we can use to get something from Jesus. That was the whole point. The only common strain that ran through all of Jesus’ miracles was faith. People went to him expecting a miracle. It didn’t matter how it happened, it only mattered that they got it.

If you want something from God, if you need a miracle, there are no surefire steps to take. To the man who wanted his servant healed and believed that if Jesus only said the words, it would happen, Jesus said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel!”

More than any one method, I believe it is the confident faith with which we approach Jesus that will see the greatest results. If God made us a promise in His Word, we can approach Him with all confidence that it will happen!

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

Read: Judges 1-2, Luke 7:1-30

Not in it

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was a such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

How often do we look for God in the storm, the quake, and the fire? He can and has appeared in those things, but He also comes in a gentle whisper. Too often, we get so caught up in watching for the big and loud that we completely miss out on the soft and quiet. On a daily basis, we’re so surrounded by sound we would never hear a whisper unless we were intent on doing so. Yet Elijah heard it—even after the noise of the storm, the quake, and the fire died down. With all that noise ringing in his ears, he would have had to be listening closely to hear the gentle whisper.

It wasn’t just that Elijah was listening for the whisper, he’d put himself in a place to do so. I’ve seen people stumble into church fifteen minutes late, frazzled by the effort it took just to get there, and then walk out in a huff because they didn’t get what they wanted from God.

Prior to the mountain, Elijah was on the run. Jezebel had made a solid threat to end his life, so he, like any other sane man, ran from the crazy lady. He planned to die in the wilderness, but God had other plans and sent an angel to feed him.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

1 Kings 19:7-8 (NLT)

Elijah’s mountaintop experience didn’t just happen. He wasn’t taking a scenic hike when God just decided to interrupt him. He was there on purpose. It took him forty days and forty nights to get there. We act like God should shower great blessings on us just because we managed to make it to church before the service ended and here, Elijah travelled for forty days and nights on two meals.

It doesn’t take any effort at all on God’s part to reach us no matter where we are, but I firmly believe that He is looking for great effort on our part to reach Him where He is. Our response to Him is often akin to Elijah had he politely declined the food and water the angel brought to him. No thanks, I’d rather die in the wilderness than eat this miraculous food because I know God will ask me to do something I’m probably not willing to put in the effort to do.

After forty days and nights of travelling, Elijah could have given up when God wasn’t in the the storm. He could have started back down the mountain when He wasn’t in the quake (be honest, would you stay on a mountaintop after an earthquake?). He could have seen the glow of the fire from a distance. And he would have missed the whisper entirely.

When we put in the effort we think is required of us to hear from God, our patience can often run thin. We get to where God wants us and then expect Him in the storm and check out because God was not in it. In reality, it is our hearts that are not in it.

In his weariness from the long journey, having almost been swept away by the storm, tossed down the mountain by the quake, and consumed by the fire, I’m sure the only thing Elijah could hear was his heart. Pounding in his ears. But he stayed where he was. Maybe he was frozen in fear and couldn’t move, but when God finally spoke, he was listening.

The next time you’re ready to walk away because you don’t see God in it, check your self. Make sure you are in it. Then wait. Listen closely for the sound of a gentle whisper.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 19-20, John 2

What did you expect?

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out… And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them… On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him… So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

Luke 8:11, 37, 40, 9:6 (NLT)

Isn’t it rather amazing that on one side of the lake, Jesus was feared? He performed one miracle and it terrified the villagers so much, they asked him to leave. It had been an unscheduled stop, so I don’t think that Jesus and his disciples were too put out by the request.

While on the other side of the lake, the villagers had been expecting Jesus. They were waiting. Anticipating. Jesus and his crew were able to travel to the surrounding towns performing miracle after miracle.

What was the difference?

Expectation. Where there was anticipation of Jesus’ arrival, great things were bound to happen. Where he hadn’t been previously announced, he was able to do nothing.

When you go to church, is it just another day? Another thing to check off your schedule? Or do you show up expecting to meet Jesus? Do you arrive in anticipation of what he is able to do?

I tell my teams of church volunteers all the time to come expecting every Sunday. I can’t tell you what you need to expect, only you can decide that. The woman who had been bleeding for more than a decade expected healing when she simply touched something that was touching Jesus. Jairus expected that his daughter would be healed if Jesus could only come home with him. Even the demons who had held a man captive in his own body expected something of Jesus. They all expected and they all received.

If we expect nothing of Jesus, we don’t have the right to be disappointed when nothing happens. Whether you need healing, breakthrough, or simple affirmation, expect it. Never once did Jesus turn someone down when they needed something, but they key is that they all approached him with a request. He never pontificated about how his great power and grace healed, but proclaimed that their own faith made them well.

What do you expect from Jesus today?

Daily Bible reading: Judges 8-9, Luke 8:22-56

Jump up

If you knew Jesus was within shouting distance, what would your reaction be? Would you call out to him? Would you keep calling if those around shushed you? Would you chase after him? What if you called to him and he heard you? What if he called you over? Would you casually approach? Would you hurl yourself toward him?

Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:50 (NLT)

This man was blind. He’d heard the stories of the miracles that followed Jesus. By this time in his ministry, Jesus had restored sight to countless blind people. Bartimaeus wanted his take!

Despite the crowd’s less than enthusiastic response to Bartimaeus’ shouts, he continued on until he’d captured Jesus attention. When Jesus finally responded, Bart didn’t wait. He didn’t take the time to weigh his options or make a list of pros and cons. He didn’t even wait for someone to help him up.

He jumped up, shed the thing that would slow him down, and approached Jesus.

Now is the time when we all expect Jesus to make him see. But look at Jesus’ words:

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.

Mark 10:52 (NLT)

Jesus didn’t say, “I have healed you,” he said, “Your faith has healed you.” I wonder if Jesus’ words would have been the same had Bart decided to wait for help or if he got up a little slower or if he’d let his coat hold him down.

Bartemaeus’ response to and faith in Jesus made him well. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus told him to go his way. So what did he do? Go home? No! He followed Jesus down the road. His old life as a blind man was over thanks to Jesus. He didn’t go back. As far as the scripture reads, he didn’t even go back for his coat. He not only left behind his blindness, he left behind the life that was attached to it.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 34-36, Mark 10:32-52

Hope

I’m willing to bet that almost everyone, at some point, has gone ahead and done or said something before the allotted or appropriate time.

We don’t like to wait.

I hate waiting.

When I know that something is going to happen, I want it to happen now.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning,
more than the watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV)

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the watchmen did a lot of waiting. A lot. If you’re the guy stuck walking the wall through the night, you’re going to be waiting for the morning. Every moment of the night.

That is how we should be waiting on the Lord. With keen anticipation. Every moment.

In our church, the worship team has noticed something about waiting. Some time ago, any lull in worship would have brought on an awkward silence and we’d have to push on to the next song as soon as possible so we wouldn’t “lose” the congregation. These days, there is an expectancy, a weight to the silence. We’re waiting. We’re hoping. And God is showing up in ways we never expected.

So in the waiting, be also expectant. It’s fine to hope for one thing to pass, but it’s what we do in the waiting that will affect the moment we’re waiting for.

Daily Bible reading:Psalm 128-131, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40