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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Step on up

This life would be made a whole lot easier at times if Jesus just came right out and said, "Let me ask you something..." - wouldn't it?  We wouldn't have to ask if the little voice we hear "mulling things over" in our minds was just us or if it was his Spirit speaking with us.  We wouldn't have to ask, "Is that really you, Lord?"  We might just take steps forward with more confidence, step back when danger is imminent, and be so in tune with God's next steps that we never are out of touch with what he is doing.  There are probably more times when we are found asking if God is really speaking to us, if we can trust what we are hearing or sensing, and if this really applies to us in our present circumstances!  Why?  Maybe it is because our minds just have a hard time wrapping themselves around this idea of God talking with mortal man; or maybe we just don't quite "buy into" what he is saying and doing in our lives, so we stand there finding a way to "discount" it.  Either way, we often miss out on the best he has for us because we don't act upon what we hear!

“Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”  (Luke 6:9 MSG)

There are times we come to God quite expectantly; at others, we find ourselves in the place where we might discover his awesome power if we will just stop long enough to pay attention.  As we unwrap our scripture passage today, it is important to recognize that the man being touched by Jesus is not there by accident.  It was the Sabbath - the day for church.  He was going about his normal routine - because it was the day to gather in the local church house.  Most of the time, God speaks to us in the everyday stuff we do. There is a time and reason for fasting, attending retreats, or taking a time away to discover what God has to say to us about something more "significant" than or everyday routine.  Most of the time, the discoveries we make about Jesus and his faithfulness in our lives are in the "everyday" stuff we walk through with him.

Both the man with the crippled hand and the Pharisees (religious leaders) were going about the "regular" stuff they do on the Sabbath.  No one was really there for a retreat, or because it was declared to be a "Feast Day" with solemn fasting and sacrifices being offered.  It was a regular church day.  In the moments we take pause to listen to the voice of Jesus, we have the potential of seeing the "regular" become the moments of "supernatural" connection with him.  The religious leaders may have been looking for a way to make Jesus lose credibility in the eyes of the congregation, but the man with the crippled hand wasn't about to pass up what could be a very special moment for him.  In the "regular", he was about to experience the "supernatural" and he wasn't' going to miss out!

Even in the "regular", we sometimes need to act a little "irregularly".  It would not have been customary for the crippled man to approach the teacher at church.  In fact, the withered hand made this man "less than perfect", so he would possibly have been in a group of "other unfortunates" who also suffered from diseases of their bodies or deformities of sorts.  He would have come to church because it was the customary thing to do, but on this day, I wonder if he really knew what would become of his faithfulness.  We probably don't know what will become of our faithfulness, either.  It isn't that we go to church regularly - it is that we are faithful to the things we know God wants of us on a consistent basis.  When we find ourselves consistent in our walk, perhaps we will also find ourselves in these moments when the "regular" becomes the "supernatural" in our day!

We never know when we will be the "called out" in the crowd.  In that moment, the way we respond makes all the difference.  I know I have faltered on occasion - how about you?  In those moments, we need to learn to just step out - for in the regular we find our opportunity to experience what we could only imagine apart from his power displayed on our behalf.  God doesn't need our religious piety - he needs our heartfelt sincerity.  He doesn't speak to our religious performance - he meets us in our deepest moments of need. He speaks in ways we may not notice because we are so intent on what might believe will be the way he will act, but if we just listen closely, we will hear his call to come forward.  In that moment, his faithfulness on our behalf is made alive in our need.  Just sayin!