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Archive for January, 2012

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Exodus 出埃及記 14:26-31

耶和華對摩西說、你向海伸杖、叫水仍合在埃及人並他們的車輛、馬兵身上…以色列人看見耶和華向埃及人所行的大事、就敬畏耶和華、又信服他和他的僕人摩西。

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.”…And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Esther 3

Haman Plans to Destroy the Jewish People
1 After these things happened, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite. He gave him a new rank that was higher than all the important men.
2 All the royal officers at the king’s gate would bow down and kneel before Haman, as the king had ordered. But Mordecai would not bow down or show him honor.

3 Then the royal officers at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why don’t you obey the king’s command?”
4 And they said this to him every day. When he did not listen to them, they told Haman about it. They wanted to see if Haman would accept Mordecai’s behavior because Mordecai had told them he was Jewish.

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down to him or honor him, he became very angry.
6 He thought of himself as too important to try to kill only Mordecai. He had been told who the people of Mordecai were, so he looked for a way to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, in all of Xerxes’ kingdom.

7 It was in the first month of the twelfth year of King Xerxes’ rule—the month of Nisan. Pur (that is, the lot) was thrown before Haman to choose a day and a month. So the twelfth month, the month of Adar, was chosen.

8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain group of people scattered among the other people in all the states of your kingdom. Their customs are different from those of all the other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws. It is not right for you to allow them to continue living in your kingdom.
9 If it pleases the king, let an order be given to destroy those people. Then I will pay seven hundred fifty thousand pounds of silver to those who do the king’s business, and they will put it into the royal treasury.”

10 So the king took his signet ring off and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jewish people.
11 Then the king said to Haman, “The money and the people are yours. Do with them as you please.”

12 On the thirteenth day of the first month, the royal secretaries were called, and they wrote out all of Haman’s orders. They wrote to the king’s governors and to the captains of the soldiers in each state and to the important men of each group of people. The orders were written in the writing of each state and in the language of each people. They were written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with his signet ring.
13 Letters were sent by messengers to all the king’s empire ordering them to destroy, kill, and completely wipe out all the Jewish people. That meant young and old, women and little children, too. It was to happen on a single day—the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which was Adar. And they could take everything the Jewish people owned.
14 A copy of the order was given out as a law in every state so all the people would be ready for that day.

15 The messengers set out, hurried by the king’s command, as soon as the order was given in the palace at Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was in confusion.

Haman seeks to destroy the Jews. (1-6) He obtains a decree against the Jews. (7-15)

Commentary on Esther 3:1-6
Mordecai refused to reverence Haman. The religion of a Jew forbade him to give honours to any mortal man which savoured of idolatry, especially to so wicked a man as Haman. By nature all are idolaters; self is our favourite idol, we are pleased to be treated as if every thing were at our disposal. Though religion by no means destroys good manners, but teaches us to render honour to whom honour is due, yet by a citizen of Zion, not only in his heart, but in his eyes, such a vile person as Haman was, is contemned, Psalm 15:4. The true believer cannot obey edicts, or conform to fashions, which break the law of God. He must obey God rather than man, and leave the consequences to him. Haman was full of wrath. His device was inspired by that wicked spirit, who has been a murderer from the beginning; whose enmity to Christ and his church, governs all his children.

Commentary on Esther 3:7-15
Without some acquaintance with the human heart, and the history of mankind, we should not think that any prince could consent to a dreadful proposal, so hurtful to himself. Let us be thankful for mild and just government. Haman inquires, according to his own superstitions, how to find a lucky day for the designed massacre! God’s wisdom serves its own purposes by men’s folly. Haman has appealed to the lot, and the lot, by delaying the execution, gives judgment against him. The event explains the doctrine of a particular providence over all the affairs of men, and the care of God over his church. Haman was afraid lest the king’s conscience should smite him for what he had done; to prevent which, he kept him drinking. This cursed method many often take to drown convictions, and to harden their own hearts, and the hearts of others, in sin. All appeared in a favourable train to accomplish the project. But though sinners are permitted to proceed to the point they aim at, an unseen but almighty Power turns them back. How vain and contemptible are the strongest assaults against Jehovah! Had Haman obtained his wish, and the Jewish nation perished, what must have become of all the promises? How could the prophecies concerning the great Redeemer of the world have been fulfilled? Thus the everlasting covenant itself must have failed, before this diabolical project could take place.

Abigail

Scripture References
1 Samuel 25:1-42: – 1 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran.
2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel.
3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.
4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep.
5 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name.
6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!
7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing.
8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’”
9 When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.
10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days.
11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word.
13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.
14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them.
15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing.
16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them.
17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.
19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them.
21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good.
22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”
23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.
24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.
25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.
26 And now, my lord, as surely as the LORD your God lives and as you live, since the LORD has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal.
27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.
28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live.
29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling.
30 When the LORD has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel,
31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.
33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.
34 Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”
35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”
36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak.
37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.
38 About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”
Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.
40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”
41 She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”
42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

2 Samuel 3:3: – 3 his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur.

Name Meaning — Father of Joy, or Cause of Joy

Family Connections — Scripture gives us no clue as to Abigail’s parentage or genealogy. Ellicott suggests that the name given this famous Jewish beauty who became the good angel of Nabal’s household was likely given her by the villagers of her husband’s estate. Meaning “Whose father is joy,” Abigail was “expressive of her sunny, gladness-bringing presence.” Her religious witness and knowledge of Jewish history testify to an early training in a godly home, and acquaintance with the teachings of the prophets in Israel, Her plea before David also reveals her understanding of the events of her own world.

The three conspicuous characters in the story of one of the loveliest females in the Bible are Nabal, Abigail and David. Nabal is described as “the man churlish and evil in his doings” (1 Samuel 25:3: – 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite), and his record proves him to be all that. Churlish means, a bear of man, harsh, rude and brutal. Destitute of the finer qualities his wife possessed, he was likewise avaricious and selfish. Rich and increased with goods and gold, he thought only of his possessions and could be classed among those of whom it has been written—

The man may breathe but never lives

Whoe’er receives but nothing gives—

Creation’s blot, creation’s blank,

Whom none can love and none can thank.

Nabal was also a drunken wretch, as well as being unmanageable and stubborn and ill-tempered. Doubtless he was often “very drunken.” This wretch of a man was likewise an unbeliever, “a son of Belial,” who bowed his knee to the god of this world and not to the God of his fathers. Further, as a follower of Saul he shared the rejected king’s jealousy of David. Added to his brutal disposition and evil doings was that of stupidity, as his name suggests. Pleading for his unworthy life, Abigail asked for mercy because of his foolishness. “As his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him” (1 Samuel 25:25: – 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent). Nabal means “a fool,” and what Abigail actually meant was, “Pay no attention to my wretched husband for he’s a fool by name, and a fool by nature.” Truly, such a man will always provoke the profoundest perversion in all who read his story.

Abigail is as “a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.” In her, winsomeness and wisdom were wed. She had brains as well as beauty. Today, many women try to cultivate beauty and neglect their brains. A lovely face hides an empty mind. But with Abigail, loveliness and intelligence went hand in hand, with her intelligence emphasizing her physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as she had is surely one of God’s masterpieces.

Added to her charm and wisdom was that of piety. She knew God, and although she lived in such an unhappy home, she remained a saint. Her own soul, like that of David, was “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord God.” Writing of Abigail as “A Woman of Tact” W. Mackintosh Mackay says that, “she possessed in harmonious combination these two qualities which are valuable to anyone, but which are essential to one who has to manage men—the tact of a wise wife and the religious principle of a good woman.” Eugenia Price, who writes of Abigail as, A Woman With God’s Own Poise , says that, “only God can give a woman poise like Abigail possessed, and God can only do it when a woman is willing to cooperate as Abigail cooperated with Him on every point.” True to the significance of her own name she experienced that in God her Father there was a source of joy enabling her to be independent of the adverse, trying circumstances of her miserable home life. She must have had implicit confidence in God to speak to David as she did about her divinely predestined future. In harmony with her many attractions was “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is more lustrous than the diamonds that decorate the delicate fingers of our betters, shone as an ornament of gold about her head, and chains about her neck.”

David is the other outstanding character in the record. He it was who fought the battles of the Lord, and evil had not been found in him all his days (1 Sam. 25:28: – 28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live). He could match Abigail’s beauty, for it was said of him that he was “ruddy…of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (1 Samuel 16:12: – 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”). When Abigail and David became one they must have been a handsome pair to look upon! Then, in addition to being most musical, David was equal with Abigail in wisdom and piety for he was “prudent in matters,…and the Lord [was] with him” (1 Samuel 16:18: – 18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him”).

The sacred historian tells us how these three persons were brought together in a tragic way. David was an outlaw because of Saul’s hatred, and lived in the strongholds of the hills with his loyal band of 600 followers. Having often helped Nabal’s herdsmen out, being in need of food for his little army, David sent a kind request to Nabal for help. In his churlish fashion, Nabal bluntly refused to give David a crumb for his hungry men, and dismissed David as a marauding hireling. Angered, David threatened to plunder Nabal’s possession and kill Nabal and all those who emulated his contempt. Abigail, learning from the servants of David’s request and her husband’s rude refusal, unknown to Nabal, acted with thought, care and great rapidity. As Ellicott comments &–;

Having often acted as peace-maker between her intemperate husband and his neighbours, on hearing the story and how imprudently her husband had behaved, saw that no time must be lost, for with a clever woman’s wit she saw that grave consequences would surely follow the churlish refusal and the rash words, which betrayed at once the jealous adherent of Saul and the bitter enemy of the powerful outlaw.

Gathering together a quantity of food and wine, sufficient she thought for David’s immediate need, Abigail rode out on an ass and at a covert of a hill met David and his men—and what a momentous meeting it turned out to be. With discreet tact Abigail averted David’s just anger over Nabal’s insult to his messengers, by placing at David’s feet food for his hungry men. She also revealed her wisdom in that she fell at the feet of David, as an inferior before a superior, and acquiesced with him in his condemnation of her brutal, foolish husband.

As a Hebrew woman was restricted by the customs of her time to give counsel only in an emergency and in the hour of greatest need, Abigail, who had risked the displeasure of her husband whose life was threatened, did not act impulsively in going to David to plead for mercy. She followed the dictates of her disciplined will, and speaking at the opportune moment her beautiful appeal from beautiful lips, captivated the heart of David. “As his own harp had appeased Saul, the sweet-toned voice of Abigail exorcised the demon of revenge, and woke the angel that was slumbering in David’s bosom.” We can never gauge the effect of our words and actions upon others. The intervention of Abigail in the nick of time teaches us that when we have wisdom to impart, faith to share, and help to offer, we must not hesitate to take any risk that may be involved.

Abigail had often to make amends for the infuriated outbursts of her husband. Neighbors and friends knew her drunken sot of a husband only too well, but patiently she would pour oil on troubled waters, and when she humbly approached with a large peace offering, her calmness soothed David’s anger and gave her the position of advantage. For her peace-making mission she received the king’s benediction (1 Sam. 25:33: – 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands). Her wisdom is seen in that she did not attempt to check David’s turbulent feelings by argument, but won him by wise, kind words. Possessing heavenly intelligence, self-control, common sense and vision, she exercised boundless influence over a great man, and marked herself out as a truly great woman. After Abigail’s successful, persuasive entreaty for the life of her worthless husband, the rest of her story reads like a fairy tale. She returned to her wicked partner to take up her hard and bitter life again.

It is to the credit of this noble woman that she did not leave her godless husband or seek divorce from him, but remained a loyal wife and the protector of her worthless partner. She had taken him for better or for worse, and life for her was worse than the worst. Wretched though her life was, and spurned, insulted and beaten as she may have been during Nabal’s drinking bouts, she clung to the man to whom she had sworn to be faithful. Abigail manifested a love stronger than death. But the hour of deliverance came ten days after her return home, when by a divine stroke, Nabal’s worthless life ended. When David hearkened to the plea of Abigail and accepted her person, he rejoiced over being kept back by her counsel from taking into his own hands God’s prerogative of justice (Romans 12:19: – 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord).

When David said to Abigail, “Blessed be thy advice,” he went on to confess with his usual frank generosity that he had been wrong in giving way to wild, ungovernable passion. If Abigail had not interceded he would have carried out his purpose and destroyed the entire household of Nabal, which massacre would have included Abigail herself. But death came as the great divorcer or arbiter, and Nabal’s wonderful wife had no tears of regret, for amid much suffering and disappointment she had fulfilled her marriage vows. In that farmer’s house there had been “The Beauty and the Beast.” The Beast was dead, and the Beauty was legally free of her terrible bondage.

After Nabal’s death, David “communed with Abigail” (1 Samuel 25:39: – 39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”) — a technical expression for asking one’s hand in marriage (Song of Solomon 8:8: – 8 We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?) — and took her as his wife. Married to Israel’s most illustrious king, Abigail entered upon a happier career. By David, she had a son named Chileab, or Daniel
compare 2 Samuel 3:3: –  3 his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur.
with 1 Chronicles 3:1: – 1 These were the sons of David born to him in Hebron: The firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; the second, Daniel the son of Abigail of Carmel.

The latter name means, “God is my Judge,” and one has an inkling that the choice of such a name was Abigail’s because of her experience of divine vindication. She accompanied David to Gath and Ziklag
1 Samuel 27:3: – 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal.

1 Sam. 30:5: – 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.

1 Sam. 30:18: – 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives.

Matthew Henry’s comment at this point is, “Abigail married David in faith, not questioning but that, though now he had not a house of his own, yet God’s promise to him would at length be fulfilled.” Abigail brought to David not only “a fortune in herself,” but much wealth so useful to David in the meeting of his manifold obligations.

Among the lessons to be learned from the life of Abigail, the first is surely evident, namely, that much heartache follows when a Christian woman marries an unbeliever. Unequal yokes do not promote true and abiding happiness. The tragedy in Abigail’s career began when she married Nabal, a young man of Naon. Already we have asked the question, Why did she marry such a man? Why did such a lovely girl throw herself away upon such a brute of a man? According to the custom of those times marriages were man-made, the woman having little to say about the choice of a husband. Marriage was largely a matter of family arrangement. Nabal was of wealthy parentage and rich in his own right with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and thus seemed a good catch for Abigail. But character should be considered before possessions.

Many a woman in the world today made her own choice of a partner. Perhaps she knew of his failures and thought that after marriage she would reform him, but found herself joined to one whose ways became more evil. Then think of those brave, unmurmuring wives who have to live with the fool of a husband whose drunken, crude ways are repellant, yet who, by the grace of God accept and live with their trial; and who, because of a deep belief in divine sufficiency retain their poise. Such living martyrs are among God’s heroines. All of us know of those good women chained with the fetters of a wretched married life for whom it would be infinitely better for them—

To lie in their graves where the head, heart and breast,

From care, labour and sorrow forever should rest.

Thinking of modern Abigails the appropriate lines of noble Elizabeth Barrett Browning come to mind—

The sweetest lives are those to duty wed,

Whose deeds, both great and small, and closeknit strands

Of an unbroken thread; where love ennobles all.

The World may sound no trumpets, ring no bells:

The Book of Life the shining record tells.

Mark 3:1-6

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Get up and come forward!’ And He said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Kids Bible Study 1-31-2012

Down Through The Roof – Jesus Heals A Paralytic Man
Matt. 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:18-26
Jesus said to the man, “Be of good cheer, for your sins are forgiven. Take up your bed and return to your own house.”

WHEREVER JESUS WENT,crowds followed him. In the streets, or even in the homes of Capernaum, many people gathered when they knew he was present. Some of these people were his friends, others were merely persons curious to hear him speak and to see him perform some miracle, while still others followed for the purpose of finding fault with him.    One day while Jesus was in Capernaum so many people came to the house where he was staying that they left no room for others to enter. Among them, as usual, were his disciples and friends, the curiosity-seekers, and the fault-finders. These fault-finders were scribes and Pharisees who had come from far-off places to hear him. They had heard many reports about his wonderful teachings, and they wished to hear him for themselves. As he talked, they sat near by, watching every move he made.

Into that crowded room sick people had been brought, and Jesus healed them all. Then while he preached about the kingdom of God the listeners were surprised to hear a scrambling overhead. Presently the roof began to part, and the people saw a queer-looking object being lowered from the ceiling. Then they recognized the form of a crippled man lying on a bed.

On the roof were the four friends of this crippled man. They had tried to bring him to Jesus; but when they carried him as far as the door they saw that it would not be possible to push with their burden through the crowd. Yet they were determined to bring this suffering man to the great Healer. The man was not able to move himself about, and day after day he had lain upon his bed because of the disease that had made him so weak and helpless.

When the crowd had refused to make way for them to pass, the four friends carried the man up on the flat roof of the house. Then they tore up the roof tiling and saw where Jesus stood. This done, they tied ropes about the bed on which the man lay, and lowered the bed very carefully into the room, before Jesus.

Of course the service was interrupted when the sick man was being lowered by the ropes from the roof. The onlookers wondered what Jesus would do. Perhaps some of them knew this sick man. They were all surprised when they heard Jesus say to him, “Son, be of good cheer, for your sins are forgiven.”

The look of pain left the sick man’s face and a happy smile came instead. But the astonished people were not watching him. They were looking in surprise at the one who had dared to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” They knew God had power to forgive sins, but they did not know that Jesus was the Son of God.

The fault-finders began to say in their hearts, “Who is this who pretends to forgive sins?” None except God can do that!

Jesus knew their thoughts, and he said, “Why do you think evil of me in your hearts? Is it easier to tell the man that his sins are forgiven, or to tell him to rise up from his bed and walk? That you may know I have power on earth to forgive sins too [then Jesus turned to the helpless man lying on the couch before him and said], Arise, take up your bed and return to your own house.”

Immediately the stiffness departed from the sick man’s limbs and strength came into his body. Then he arose up in the presence of all the people, rolled up the couch, or mat, upon which he had lain for many days, and lifted it up on his shoulders just as well men carried their beds in that country. The surprised people made way for him, and he walked out through their midst into the street to join his happy friends.

Great fear came upon the people in that crowded house. They glorified God, and said to each other as they hurried home, “Surely we have seen strange things today!”

Prayer 1-31-2012

Dear Father, thank you for the dreams and desires you’ve placed within me. I submit those dreams to you and ask that you direct my steps. Search my heart and make my thoughts agreeable to your word and to your plan for me.

In Jesus’ Name
Amen

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