This has to be one of the hardest verses in the Bible to do, and do well. This verse says that if we want to follow Jesus we must make a conscious decision to renounce our old self and instead follow the example of our crucified Christ. And no one, including Jesus, Himself, ever said it would be easy, for there is a tremendous cost to following the Lord. Considering it takes daily getting our priorities right and properly arranging our lives so that Jesus ranks supreme in everything we do, carrying our cross becomes a trial of faith and obedience.
Human emotions can be all over the place…from jubilation to despair. But when your trust is firmly fixed on Jesus, the highs and lows aren’t as severe. For when your faith is based on Him and what He can do and not on fate or luck…you can face any bad news with confidence that Jesus will see you through. This is shown to us in Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” Thank you Lord for that certainty we can have.
Jeremiah was not popular among the people of Judah! His message from the Lord was primarily one of judgment, which lead to his life often being threatened. During his over 40 years of ministry Jeremiah often implored God to protect him…”Remember me, O Lord; remember me and care for me.” (Jeremiah 15:15) and “Let my persecutors be put to shame, but keep me from shame; let them be terrified, but keep me from terror.” (Jeremiah 17:18) Jeremiah had learned to put his absolute trust in God regardless of what the circumstances looked like around him…for he had discovered there’s no safer place to be than in the very center of God’s Will.
So many times we plan major things…making important decisions that will effect our life with little to none of God’s input first. We make up our minds that this is how it will be…and then as almost an afterthought… we ask the Lord to bless it. That’s kinda putting the cart before the horse don’t you think? Making choices without God’s input and counsel first is presumptuous and says we’re trusting in ourselves…not God.
As the song title goes, “Whose Report will you Believe Today?” The bad one the Doctor has just delivered to you…leaving you sad and filled with pain and calamity. Or the report of the Lord’s which is filled with certainty and promise? For when our strength comes from Him and not ourselves, we can rest securely, without fear…leaning heavily upon God’s grace and mercy.
The short answer to both these questions is, No! Even the most intelligent man in the world is of no practical use to God. As Isaiah 55: 8-9 tells us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” For Luke 17:10 says, we are just unworthy servants totally dependent on the Lord for His benevolence and must trust that He is in control of any and all situations.
Peter sent the mourners and doubters out of the room much like Jesus did when He brought the dead little girl back to life in Matthew 9:25. Both didn’t allow negativity and unbelief to remain in the room. Nor did either permit skepticism and scoffing to change their confidence in what God could do. So what can we take from this when praying for someone seriously ill? First is to get rid of all distractions and those who can’t believe for a miracle. Instead, gather around those who have faith for a healing, (remember, it can be as small as a mustard seed). Next speak life and not death into the person and ask God to heal them. Finally, continue to speak life into the person and watch God work.