Tuesday, July 25, 2006

#56 "Do You Want to Be Healed?"

July 25, 2006
"Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed . One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5: 2-6)

Stuck in a bad place for 38 years! 38 years!! There is not much in our passage to tell us the exact nature of what had gripped this sick man for so long, except that he couldn't move without help. Was he an invalid from birth? We don't know. What we do know however is that his condition was hopeless. Local tradition said that once a year an angel would come and stir the waters and the first one in the water would be healed. Our man may have been brought to the pool once a year when the troubling of the waters was expected or he may have sat there near the pool all the time. There were a whole lot of disabled people at the pool when Jesus perceived this man's situation by His knowledge. He focused on one man out of the crowd and chose this one man to be healed. Some suggest he may have been the one who had given up all hope of ever getting well. He'd been sick for 38 years! He probably tried other things to get healed. I think he was ready on that day to hope in something else.

Could that "one man" be you? Could you be the one that Jesus heals? Could your life be the one that is turned around dramatically? Are you ready for something else, as he was? Are you tired of where you are? Are you ready to make a change? Have you been stuck in a bad place for 38 years? 15 years? 5 years? Too long?

Jesus sees the man, perceives his condition and asks a seemingly strange question. "Do you want to get well?" At first glance we say, "Well, duh, Jesus, he's always there at the pool, waiting, hoping to get in - why would he be there if he didn't want to get well?" Looking deeper though, this wasn't a foolish question at all. Is it possible that Jesus knew something that we don't? I believe it's very possible. Many people who are chronic invalids have no hope of a cure. Others use their "sicknesses" as means to get sympathy and really don't want to get healed. We all know of people who profess to want help out of their circumstances, but they really want help to stay in them. People often are happy, for a while anyway, in their sin and dysfunction.

I used to know a homeless man who held a sign that said, "Homeless and Hungry. Will work for food." So many people tried to help him. But he wouldn't go where help was available or where there was work to be done. He didn't even want free food available at the local food pantry. As long as people continued to toss money at him, standing there looking sad, he was happy. Others get along quite well on welfare or government assistance. It is hard to walk away from that and "be healed" because they are stuck in a trap of earning power being no match for government benefits. They are in bondage to a system of rules, regulations and what seems to be no way out. It is the standard in families for generations, has contributed to the disintegration of the family and rewards what morality penalizes. Something is wrong and it's hard for trapped people to want to be healed. There may seem to be no other way to live life outside of the dysfunction. And I would like to add that money isn't the answer, because without a change of heart, more money just feeds more dysfunction.

Being healed causes problems. Our man may have been a beggar. He may have been getting along on the generosity of others. If you didn't have legs for 38 years and then got them, how would that change your life? His survival depended on people helping him, giving him food, doing things for him and giving him money. After he was healed he would be expected to earn his own money, do his own things and with probably no training. Handouts would be gone. He'd be pressured by society to marry and have children. There were a lot of reasons to not want to be healed. We can become addicted to our weaknesses and "disabilities". Our discomfort becomes comfortable once our whole life revolves around it.

Is our disability a broken home? Were we abused in our childhood? Mistreated in a marriage? Generationally bound by a government system? Are we "paralyzed" by our anger at those who have mistreated us? Do we live in self-pity? A sin that we just can't seem to control? Our disabilities may be actual physical illnesses or bondages in our mind and emotions. Dysfunction and disability come in many forms. What is yours? And again, Are you the one? Are you ready for something else? Do you want to be healed?

So we determined that Jesus asked the right question, but I believe that He got the wrong answer. And the wrong attitude. I can just hear the whining of one filled with excuses for not getting well. "I have no one to help me. Other people get ahead of me. It's not fair. I have no strength. I have no friends. I've tried but it's just too hard." Get the picture? My goodness, if the angel came once a year, this guy had 364 other days to ROLL himself to the edge and just plop in when the angel came. He was wasting 364 other days when he should have been preparing for his one day of blessing. How many days do we waste in self pity and excuses and then when our one day of blessing is here, we're not prepared or ready? We have no resume written when the job opens. We have acquired no knowledge when the opportunity comes and passes us by. We have no finances saved when God asks us to give or to go. We are too wrapped up in our own dysfunction to help someone else.

Again, with healing comes responsibility. We cannot rely on our excuses any longer. We must become self-sufficient. The chains of bondage are broken. We can't be held back by the labels others have placed upon us. Healing also means hard work and determination. What are your attitudes and excuses? Are you not rich enough? Are you too white or too black? Are you from the wrong side of the tracks? Were you beaten or abused? Did your husband leave you to raise the kids alone? Are you too messed up to have a message?

So at this critical juncture, our man must make a choice. Remember that his brain wasn't disabled. It was decision making time. Would he continue to lie there, doubting that he could be healed? Would he just flat out refuse to get up? Would he use excuses when Jesus told him to "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!"? (v.8) "It's just too hard!" - to clean my house, to pay my bills, to go to work, to get rid of friends who are bad influences, to pour my self into my children, to serve God in a ministry, to stand strong and be a witness in the face of adversity and tough circumstances and not fall apart. Out of self pity and on to blessing! Jesus stands in front of us just as He stood in front of our man. Willing and able to heal. Saying, "I'm not going to help you to live in weakness when you can live in my Strength." We have no excuse today. Jesus stands ready and willing and able to heal you...today, right now!

Our man's back was to the wall. He chose to pick up his mat and walk. Will you? Muscles long atrophied were completely restored. What needs restoration in your life? Jesus can heal you. You have no excuse. You have a chance to change your life.

After our man was healed, of course, adversity came, as it will for us. People started coming around and telling him that he shouldn't carry his mat on the Sabbath and insisting that he tell them who healed him. (v. 10-12) When you decide to pick up your mat and walk, to start living a whole new way, people will show up. They'll tell you that you can't do it, this is the way it's always been and there's no hope for making a change. You will face discouragement and anger from those who don't agree with your new lifestyle. "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4: 4-5) Satan doesn't want you to prosper and do well. He wants to keep you down and out and ineffective for God's kingdom. He doesn't want you get sick and tired of being sick and tired. The Bible says that we will struggle but don't let the devil, his lies and excuses or the people he uses against you to keep you from walking. You have inside information on who they are and who sent them, so be wise. The Bible says, "Be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might." (see Ephesians 6: 10-12) You'll never be able to do it by yourself or in your own power. But God .....And verse 15 tells us that after the man was healed he "went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well." Go tell someone, a lot of someone's, what Jesus has done for you!

I apologize for the length of this message but I believe it is critical to our growth in our walk with Christ and in our being able to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus died to give us. Once you've made your decision to pick up your mat and walk, don't ever put it down again and go back. Jesus told the man, "Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." (v. 14) You need to stick with it and make a commitment. If not, you'll go back to where you were and fall right into Satan's trap for your life. Satan has a trap. God has a plan. A wonderful, glorious plan for your life. Open yourself up to a new life in Christ. One that includes the power of God over our weaknesses, sickness and sin. If we do, if we're willing, just like our man, we can pick up our mat and walk.

Pray: Lord, I stand before you as a weak, broken, sick and sinful person. I admit I am utterly unable to heal myself. I open myself to your healing power and accept the changes that your healing will make in my life. I know this will open me up to new problems that I've never faced or imagined before and I trust you to be there with me, carrying me through to your glorious kingdom in Christ Jesus. Thank you for healing me.

Walking with you,

Donna Schultz

If you would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday morning please contact Savemom@aol.com and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

#55 "God Can Use Us All"

July 18, 2006
"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Corinthians 1: 26-29)

I am on an at-home vacation this week. God is renewing my mind, my body and my spirit by His love, His molding, shaping, and His pruning. Please pray that the Lord would continue to work in me, with me and through me in a way that will bring glory to His name. I share with you one of my favorite little blurbs below, as a reminder that God can use each and every one of us, no matter our faults, our neurosis, our failures or our shortcomings. Enjoy!!

Sometimes do you ever wonder why God called you to do something for Him? There are many reasons why God shouldn?t have called you, or me, or anyone else for that matter, but God doesn?t wait until we are perfect to call us. Think of all those God used. You?re in good company if you think you aren?t ready for God to use you.
Abraham lied. Sarah laughed at God?s promises.
Moses stuttered. David?s armor didn?t fit.
John Mark was rejected by Paul.
Timothy had ulcers.
Hosea?s wife was a prostitute.
Amos? only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.
Jacob was a liar.
David had an affair.
Solomon was too rich.
Jesus was too poor.
Abraham was too old.
David was too young.
Peter was afraid of death.
Lazarus was dead.
John was self-righteous.
Naomi was a widow.
Paul was a murderer.
So was Moses.
Jonah ran from God.
Miriam was a gossip.
Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.
Elijah was burned out.
John the Baptist was a loudmouth.
Martha was a worry-wort.
Mary may have been lazy.
Samson had long hair.
Noah got drunk.
Did I mention Moses had a short fuse?
So did Peter, Paul and lots of folks.
But God doesn?t hire and fire like most bosses because He?s more like our Dad than a boss. He doesn?t look at financial gain or loss. He?s not prejudiced or partial, nor sassy and brassy, nor deaf to our cry. He?s not blind to our faults. His gifts to us are free. We could do wonderful things for others and still not be wonderful ourselves. Satan says, ?You?re not worthy!? Jesus says, ?So what? I AM.? Satan looks back and sees our mistakes. God looks back and sees the Cross.
Author unknown
Have a great week!
Donna Schultz

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

#54 "He's Not Through With You Yet!"

July 11, 2006
"..being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Have you ever started a project that you never finished? Started out with the best of intentions and lost interest somewhere along the way? I'm willing to bet a hot fudge sundae that you have. What about those books that you began to read but now sit somewhere with the bookmark still intact? How about that half cleaned closet? Ooh, here's one...what about the diet you started on New Year's Day? The exercise regimen? Organizing your house or office? That basement or garage is still a mess. Fortunately, we didn't inherit this trait from our Heavenly Father.

Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6 that God began a good work in us and He will complete it. He will keep working on us until the day of Christ Jesus, which is the day of Christ's second coming. God began His good work in us when we were saved. Unfortunately, we weren't immediately changed into holy, perfect children of God. There was still a lot of work to be done. Salvation brought us forgiveness of sins and paid the penalty for them through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. However our attitudes, motives, habits and thoughts needed some work. We didn't get a magic wand waved over our heads that made us perfect, angelic beings. There was still work to be done. But God hasn't given up on us. We are not forgotten projects...we are works in progress. Little by little, day by day, we experience the Gospel and live it out in our lives. We become more like Jesus.

Life can be a bully. Circumstances can knock us down and keep us down if we let them. We can become discouraged at what we think is our lack of progress. Like our unfinished projects we still see anger, gossip, habits that we can't seem to break, weakness in trials, old thought patterns, hurts and disappointments. But I'm here to tell you that it's not about you! It's about Christ! Our verse doesn't say that we complete the work that God started. It says that He will complete the work in us. Paul said that he was "confident" in this fact. That means that he was fully persuaded. He trusted it and believed it. He had a settled conviction that God would most certainly continue on to completion the good work He had begun in the Philippian believers.

We can place no confidence in ourselves to do any good work in us or to change us. We must grasp the concept of how faithful God is and that's where our confidence should rest. Isaiah 66:9 says, "Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the Lord. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. Of course not! God finishes what He begins. We are being changed into God's image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3: 18 KJV). The Bible says it..that settles it!

G. Campbell Morgan (pastor, teacher and writer) told about a Christian woman who was struggling with giving her life fully to Jesus. The woman said to Morgan, ?I know I will have to do all the things I most dislike, but I am determined to be a real Christian.?
A year later, Morgan was visiting in her town and spoke with her again. ?Do you recall,? she inquired, ?What I said to you when I dedicated my life to Christ?? He told her he did. As she looked at him, the light of God appeared to be on her face. She exclaimed, ?But it?s been so different, Dr. Morgan! I began to follow Christ, feeling that I would have to do all the things that were contrary to my desires, but now I do what I want every day because God has made me pleased with the things that please Him!? Notice that the woman said, "GOD has made me.."
If you are discouraged today with your walk with God and your progress, DON'T BE! Look back and you will see signs of growth. I know that you will. Remember when you were considerate instead of crabby. When you stood faithfully with a friend who was going through a rough time. When you didn't have much yourself, yet you gave anyway. When you let someone else have their way over what you wanted. When you forgave instead of retaliated. You are growing. God is changing you from glory to glory to glory. You are a work in progress. I love this quote by Joyce Meyer: "I'm not where I need to be but thank God I'm not where I used to be. I'm okay and I'm on my way!" Don't give up. Don't compare your walk with God with someone else. You are unique and special in your Father's eyes just as you are. And like Paul, I am confident that He who began a good work in you, WILL carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
He isn't through with you yet!
Donna Schultz

If you would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail each week, please contact savemom@aol.com and you will be added to the list.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

#53 "Looking Back, Going Forward, With Thanksgiving"

July 4, 2006
"...we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1: 9-12)

I am so excited to be writing to you today! This week is very special because it marks the one year anniversary of "Tuesday's with Jesus". A little over a year ago, I had a Hosea 2: 14-15 experience and my life has never been the same. What do you mean by that, Donna? Well, let me briefly explain.

Hosea 2: 14 says, "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." In May of 2005 I literally felt like I had been taken into the desert. Through a series of circumstances, God took the final step in confirming to me that I was to leave the ministry that I had been doing for the better part of five years and on top of that, He rendered me pretty much home-bound without any transportation. So here I sat, feeling pretty useless. Lest I get discouraged, my awesome Father started to "speak tenderly" to me right away. Right in the middle of that desert. He reminded me how for about a year before that He had been drawing me closer and closer to Himself. Giving me more intense revelation into His word. In fact, giving me a love and obsession for His Word like I'd never known before. He had been changing me, molding me, breaking me for a long time and for a purpose..His purpose. He then told me that I was not to be like the Dead Sea that takes in the water from the Jordan River but has no outlet streams. I was to share what I had been taught, release what I had been given, be a reservoir and a vessel fit for His purposes.

Along with this, God had given me a burden for spreading the love of Jesus Christ to believers and non-believers alike. God is so awesome and I felt so sad for those who I watched living below the level of their inheritance in Christ. There seemed to be such a lack of joy and peace, even among believers. Satan and the "cares of this world" just seemed to be getting the best of so many people. From this work that God was doing in my heart, and my dear husband, who came up with the title, "Tuesday's with Jesus" was born. Hosea 2:15 came alive in my life when God took my "Valley of Achor" (Achor means "trouble") and turned it into a door of hope.

Thank you to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You have been so faithful to me. It's been a rough road. I haven't always enjoyed the potter's hands and the refining fire, but it has been so worth it. Continue to form my heart, transform my mind and conform my will to your perfect will for my life. Thank you for using ME! You know me as I truly am and you still want to use ME! You amaze me!

Thank you to my husband, the love of my life and my best friend, Chuck. You have been my human source of strength for the last fifteen years and my biggest supporter. You are truly my "double portion for my former shame."

Thank you to my children. To Michelle, who faithfully reads "Tuesday's" every week and is growing into a beautiful woman of God more and more with each passing day. Thank you to Kelly, Brian and Kyle who may not really understand fully what their mom is doing every day, but who support me and allow me the time and quiet that I need to study, research and write.

Thank you to each one who reads "Tuesday's" every week. You are absolutely the most integral part of this ministry family, and I value you so much. Thank you for your e-mails that let me know that God has spoken to you in a personal way through my writing. You are a great source of encouragement to me to keep pressing on and to continue to write. What began as an e-mail to a short list of friends has turned into a ministry to a large number of people through my list, through forwards, and through being featured in a webzine called "Handmaidens". God's word is going places that I couldn't have even imagined in the beginning. Into jail cells, rehab centers and even to the military overseas. Praise His Holy Name!

As this new year of ministry unfolds, I pray that I will be able to continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ and share the Gospel with words of encouragement and hope to people from all walks of life. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us life and have it to the full. The Amplified Bible says, "in abundance, to the full, until it overflows." I just want people to know that and better yet, experience it!!

Please keep me in your prayers as God has placed a very specific call on my life and I believe that 2006-07 will be the year to see that ministry begin. It's a big dream and a big vision, that's all I can say for now, but I serve a big God and He has given me a big promise. And I know that He's an Ephesians 3:20 God, able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ever ask or imagine.

Please pray that wherever God allows me to speak His word that He would give me a Hebrews 4:12 teaching. Pray that God keeps me in good health and gives me His strength to do His will. I covet your prayers for me and for my family during this exciting, yet risky time of transition. Would you agree to partner with me in prayer for the next year? If you are willing, please let me know. I would so appreciate it.

Thank you again for allowing me into your home each week for the last year. I will continue to pray for you, as I have, according to Colossians, Chapter 1, our verse for this week. I am exceedingly grateful for the privilege to serve you and share God's precious, perfect Word with you.

Serving Him,

Donna Schultz

If you would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail each week, please contact me at Savemom@aol.com and you will be added to the list.