Jesus is going to help you anyway
“Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come” (Jn. 2:4)
It’s not that hard to get God to help you.
Jesus went to a wedding in Cana and they ran out of wine. His mom asked Him for help, but it wasn’t His time yet and He told her so. Then, even though her approach was off and things weren’t quite right, He went ahead and did a miracle for them anyway and turned water to wine. Blessing is more about what God does than what we do: “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).
So you see, you don’t have to be perrrfect to be helped by the Lord. In fact, if you try to be too perfect, you’ll shut things down. Paul asks: “…having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal. 3:3)? You live out your salvation the same way you started it, by Him. It doesn’t matter if you do things just right, God is going to help you anyway. It’s more about a right heart than about right form.
I used to think that to do ministry I had to be perfect and do everything just right for God to bless. I would always try hard to think of all my sins and confess them so I could do well in a meeting. It was not good though, because it was like what the Pharisees did: “And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not…” (Mk. 7:4). It’s trying to get good enough to cleanse yourself and earn favor. It ends up being too much about you and God never gets to come through. I found out it doesn’t work that way: “…where sin abounded grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20). The grace is for people who think they do need it, not for those who don’t. When your loved ones need help and cry out to you, do you critique them and stand back and say, “Well, you didn’t do it just right.” No. You just respond and don’t ask questions.
So…in 1978 I was in a ministry and we had special meetings with a well known evangelist. He didn’t show the first service due to flight problems and it fell on me to step in. The church was full and I was nervous because I couldn’t do my usual preparations. But then there was a strong peace, and the question seemed to come, “Whose ministry is it anyway, and is this about your ability or My gifting?” I understood: “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart…” (1 Jn. 3:20).
How big is your Jesus?
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament (or expanse) shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1)
My dad was an able astronomer who made his own observatory and telescopes. Some of it carried over to me and I’ve always had a great interest in the heavens and studied it in college. There is a strong connection between astronomy (not astrology) and the things of God because it shows you how big God is.
In the above verse, David says that when you look up at the stars, it tells you how immense God is. This is a natural revelation that can show you there is a God and that He is great beyond words. It can’t, however, tell you how to know Him and go to heaven. For that you need a special, not natural, revelation. That special revelation is the Word, the Bible. We know that because David goes on to say it’s the “law of the Lord” (the Word) that “converteth the soul.” But it is very good to consider the wonders of the heavens because it will show you that you don’t have a small Jesus, and that He is going to handle your problems for you. Whatever Jesus is, He is that infinitely.
Out in space, you can’t use miles because you need a bigger measuring stick. The distances are too vast and you wouldn’t have enough paper on which to write the numbers. You have to use light years. A light year is how far light travels in one year going at 186,000 miles per second. It goes around the world seven and one-half times in a second. It goes about 5.8 trillion miles in a year.
The Sun, which is a small “yellow dwarf” star, is about 93 million miles from Earth. It takes the light from it 8.3 minutes to reach us, going at 186,000 miles per second. The Sun is our nearest star. The second nearest star to Earth is Proxima which is 4.3 light years away. That’s about 25.2 trillion miles. That means when you look at Proxima, it took the light from it 4.3 Earth years to reach you, going at 186,000 miles per second. And that’s just the closest star to us, aside from the Sun.
How big is your Jesus? He made it all and “measured out the heavens with a span…” (Isa. 40:12). A span is the distance on your hand from your thumb-tip to your little finger-tip. It’s symbolic, but it means you have an incomprehensibly immense God, Who is still knowable and cares about you making your house payment on time.
Stretching on, more about the Sun. It is about 865,000 miles in diameter, the distance across. The Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter. So you would have to place about 109 Earths side-by-side to get across the Sun, a minor star. If the Earth were a golf ball, the Sun would be a ball 15 feet across. Also, you could fit 1,000,000 Earths into the Sun.
Then, what about our Earth-Moon system? The Moon is about 250,000 miles from us. You could put almost four whole Earth-Moon systems into the Sun. And remember that the Sun is just a small star.
And then there is Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in Orion. It is about 600 million miles in diameter on average, 1,000 times wider in diameter than the Sun, 500 light years from Earth, and 14,000 times brighter than the Sun. You could fit 262 trillion Earths into this star. If the Sun were replaced by Betelgeuse, the planets in our solar system out to Mars would be swallowed up by it. But, there are stars much bigger than even Betelgeuse. There is one called the Pistol Star, which is about 200 times larger than Betelgeuse. It puts out as much energy in 20 seconds as the Sun does in one year.
We live in the beautiful Milky Way galaxy, which looks like a wagon wheel. A galaxy is a family of stars. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years in diameter, which is about 590,000,000,000,000,000 miles. If Adam and Eve were created in 4004 BC (the Ussher’s Chronology, young Earth view), and had left then in a plane at the speed of light to go across the galaxy, they would have barely made a dent in the journey by now. And by the way, the nearest other galaxy to us is Andromeda, 2.5 million light years away, which is too big in miles to write here.
We make our Jesus too small. We tend to elevate our needs and we should elevate Him. All that we see was made by Him: “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in Earth…” (Col. 1:16). And He’s always greater than whatever He has made. Our problems are nothing for Him to handle. I don’t mean they’re nothing to Him in importance, for they do matter. I mean they’re nothing for Him to work out. If He can run the universe, He can pay your power bill…
I believe in miracles
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14)
No one knows how to help you like the Lord. And the good thing about the Lord is that He will help anyone. People are selective about who they will help, but not Jesus. Sometimes we get into problems by our own doing, but sometimes not. To Him, it doesn’t matter – He’s going to help you either way, my friend. Jesus helps people we would help, and those we wouldn’t help: “The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12). Everyone matters to our Savior.
In 1970, I was in college and sat next to a girl who wasn’t popular, because of appearance. But so what, she had a great heart, and that’s where the real beauty is. People judge by the outer person, but God judges by what’s inside. Anyway, she had a relative who drowned in a boating mishap and was never recovered, so there was no closure. It was on the news. I could tell she was just dying inside and started to pray for a miracle for her. She was “shut down” so I kept quiet about it.
Time went on. We both got jobs in the school kitchen and her plight was still much on my mind. I now know God was guiding me, but didn’t understand these things at the time, because I was only 19 years old. I did what seemed like a strange thing. I got some 3X5 cards and wrote Bible verses of comfort on them, about how the Lord sees death, etc. I didn’t sign them and put them in an envelope in her mailbox in the kitchen. I had just read Ecclesiastes 8:4: “Where the word of the king is there is power…” I figured that God’s Word would have power to bring a miracle to her. I had also just read Psalm 107:20, which says: “He sent His word and healed them…” Now I really knew something good was on the way. I kept praying but didn’t talk about it with her.
A year passed and I happened to randomly sit by her in another class. I could tell she was doing much better, but had not discussed it with her. Her whole look was different and she was light of heart. She flipped her Bible open, and I glanced over. There were all my old cards taped inside the covers. God let me see it. I got shivers and never said a thing.
There is a Jesus, my friend, and miracles still happen: “…for with God all things are possible” (Mk. 10:27).
Maybe you should try a little praise
“Let the people praise Thee…then shall the earth yield her increase; and God shall bless us.” (Ps. 67:5-6)
If you need a breakthrough, and nothing has worked year after year, maybe you should just praise God anyway.
Once I was talking about praising God, and after the meeting a lady asked why I was saying that praise was the automatic answer to everything. I said that it wasn’t, that only Jesus was the answer to everything, but that praise just makes a way for Him to work and for us to receive that working. I still believe that. The above verse shows that life’s release of favor and enlargement happens when I praise the Lord. Praise does something within me that makes me able to receive from the Lord’s presence. It doesn’t change the fact of God’s presence, which is a given, but it enhances the experience of His presence: “Thou art holy…who inhabits the praises of Israel” (Ps. 22:3). Nearness to the Lord happens in the place of praise. Miracles seem to be the result.
I remember as a boy preacher in 1976 going to three remote, tiny towns in eastern Oregon to hold a week of teaching meetings on praise. I was 25, hadn’t met Carol yet, and was lonely and not too confident about myself. Not much happened in those quiet places, so any event was considered special and people would turn out. But all I was hearing was that for the first meeting in Silver Lake, probably no one would come because everyone had the flu. It was everywhere.
But so was the Lord. He lifted me up when I was down and showed me to do what I was telling others to do, which was to praise God anyway. I knew Paul said, “In everything give thanks…” (1 Thes. 5:18). It didn’t mean I had to be thankful for “it,” but that I should just be thankful to the Lord while I was in “it.” I knew also that when Paul praised God in a dark hour, supernatural release was sent: “…at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises…and suddenly there was a great earthquake…” (Ac. 16:25-26). So that’s what I did that afternoon; I just had a season of praise. The meeting was that night and the school was already rented, and it would be bad if no one came. But I didn’t care. I was free and if only God came, so be it. Well, you already know what happened: We had a great time, and if you’re a counter, 28 people came…
No little people, no little things
“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee…” (2 Tim. 4:13)
If something is important to you, it is important to the Lord, even if people might think it’s a small thing. In this verse, Paul is asking Timothy to bring a coat to him that he had left at a friend’s house. He missed it and wanted it. The great Apostle Paul, who wrote about half of the New Testament and raised people from the dead, actually takes time to bring up the simple matter of a coat. I like that; something that small wasn’t beneath Paul. And God actually let something like this make it into the Bible and take up space. Have you ever thought about that? It means He’s in the little things of your life, not just the big things.
Then you come to Romans 12:16 and find Paul saying this: “…mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate…” He means the same thing: that no one is too little. Everyone matters. No one is smaller than someone else as to their value. Life assignments, giftings and achievements may vary, but worth does not.
In 1974, I found out that there are no elites in the Kingdom. I was about to graduate from college with a five-year theology degree. I was 23 and didn’t seem to have any direction. It didn’t feel right because all my friends already had things figured out and I was floundering. I couldn’t seem to get any answers as to what I should do with my life. I decided to write to someone famous and see if they could help me. I wrote a letter to Dr. Francis Schaeffer, a well known Christian author and philosopher with a ministry in Switzerland – a friend of presidents.
After I sent the letter, I felt very dumb and was certain I would never hear a thing. I sort of forgot about it. Then, to my great surprise, one month later I got a handwritten, cursive letter from him directly, on tissue type paper. Beautifully written. He said he didn’t have any answers, but he knew Jesus did and that he’d be praying for me. I will always remember his close: “With warm greetings in the Lamb, Francis Schaeffer.” I had to sit down. His authentic care overcame me. I was mightily moved for days. To have someone of high profile notice me was amazing. It released my life…two months later I was a youth pastor and my plane was off the ground.
The Jesus you can touch
“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle Me and see…” (Lk. 24:39)
You have a real Savior, not a stained glass one. The things of Jesus aren’t like a Paul Bunyan or Hercules legend or myth. Jesus is not a piece of folklore. There is a real, tangible, historical, literal, and empirical Jesus. “Empirical” is a good word and means something that can be verified – you can see it and touch it. It’s real, not fable.
The things of God are actual and real, not mystical. Luke the doctor, who wrote both Luke’s Gospel and Acts with great care and precision, refers to them as “those things which are most surely believed among us…” (Lk. 1:1). There is no make-believe about it. The gospel of Jesus is factually based: John said, “this is the true God…” (1 Jn. 5:20).
In the verse at the top, Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the 11 disciples. They saw Him but weren’t sure He was real, so He told them to touch Him so they could be certain. He also ate some fish and honey in front of them to demonstrate that He was not just spiritual and ethereal, or other-worldly. Jesus has no problem doing whatever it takes to move us into faith. When a man wanted his son healed and said “help thou mine unbelief” to Jesus, the Lord did exactly that (Mk. 9:24).
It’s still like that today: His followers may not be so sure that He is real. I have a beautiful wife, Carol, and I know she’s real, because she is tangible and can be seen. But when it comes to Jesus, I may not be as certain and may think of Him as sort of mystical, because it all seems so spiritual. But be assured, He’s just as real as the book you’re holding.
The Bible is not just myth intended to teach good lessons. It’s actual fact. You can take it literally, while allowing for figures of speech. The Flood of Noah and the Creation of Adam and Eve were affirmed by Jesus as being fact, as well as other points of Old Testament history, like the judgment of Sodom (Mt. 19:4, 24:37-39). Paul and Peter validated the same in their writings. None of it is pretend.
My friend, there really is a literal Jesus: “…He showed Himself alive…by many infallible proofs…” (Acts 1:3).
The ways of God and kites – things I learned
“The wind bloweth where it wisheth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot not tell whence it cometh…so is every one that is born of the Spirit…” (Jn. 3:8)
Jesus is saying that the ways of the Spirit are like the wind. You can’t control it and make it happen, but you can respond to it and be available to it. The word for “wind” and “spirit” is the same in Greek. It’s the word “pneuma.” Our English word “pneumonia” reminds you of this, because it’s a condition of your breathing or wind. If you have a “pneumatic drill,” you have an air powered drill. Same idea.
Anyway, you can’t make the blessings of the Lord happen, but you can present yourself with a heart that can receive them. You can’t cause supernatural release and life’s increase to take place, but you can be available to them. It’s just like the wind and my kites. I have stunt kites and like to fly them often. Being near the ocean works best, but the desert is okay, too. The more wind the better. Kites tell me about the wind, and the wind tells me about the Holy Spirit. I can have them all fancy and ready to fly, but if there is no wind, nothing happens. I can’t make the wind blow. All I can do is be available to it. When it does blow, I can be aware of it and go with it. The wind works me, I don’t work it. I fit it, it doesn’t fit me. The same is true of the ways and gifts of the Spirit. God sponsors the workings and we remain in a posture of spirit than can receive them. That’s all. It’s not anymore difficult than that. That’s how Jesus Himself lived: “I can of mine own self do nothing…” (Jn. 5:30) and “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do…” (Jn. 5:19). We also can live that way, for He said: “…without Me, ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).
So then, kites are very easy for me to fly when the wind is blowing, but very hard when it’s not. That’s because the wind does all the work. I partner with it, but I can’t initiate it. Eagles know about this secret, too. They don’t waste time at low altitudes like lesser birds and do a lot of vain flapping. They just extend their wings and tap into the wind and it does the rest. We can do that, too: “…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” (Isa. 40:31). This really is the better way to live, my friend. There’s nothing quite like power steering.
Get ready – your answer is coming
“And they said unto her, thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then they said, it is his angel.” (Ac. 12:15)
When we pray, we are supposed to believe something is going to happen. But often we doubt and then are surprised when God actually does what He said He would. In the above passage, Peter was in jail and the whole church prayed for his release. An angel took him out of jail and he went to where they were praying and knocked on the door. Rhoda answered and told everyone Peter was standing out there. Of course, I wonder why she didn’t just open the door. Anyway, they first said she was crazy, and then changed it and said it must be his angel.
We are like that though. We believe but we also don’t believe, like the man who told Jesus, “I believe, help mine unbelief” (Mk. 9:24). He wanted his demonized son healed and he believed, but doubted, too. You can have both faith and doubt at the same time about something. Of course, the wonderful thing is that he still got his miracle. You definitely don’t need perfect faith to get an answer; you just need a perfect God. It’s not really about your great faith; it’s about your great God.
But anyway, more about this. The other day I went fishing to a lake I’ve never done well at. It’s pretty and it’s fun, but all I ever do there is fish and look at the sky, but not catch. But this time it was different. I caught so many fish so quickly that I had to stop because I reached my limit. I had to throw back little ones. It was hard to believe. And that’s my point – sometimes we just don’t believe it when it happens. We’re used to fishing but not catching, asking but not receiving.
We have a God who actually answers. But we focus so much on doing our part that we forget that He’s going to do His part. For example, James 4:8 says, “draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” We work on the drawing near part and try hard, but then we forget the last part of the verse, that God is actually going to respond back to us. Or, take the promise of Jesus in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and ye shall receive…” We obey on our part and ask, but aren’t expecting the God part of it to happen, the receiving part. But it’s going to. Get ready friend.
“Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do…” (Jn. 14:13).
Someone knows something you don’t
“…they took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Ac. 18:26
When it comes to hearing from God, the issue isn’t will He talk, for He does, but will someone listen? The above verse mentions Apollos, a man in the early church who was very gifted, eloquent and educated. He was also a man who could receive enlargement from God, because he was open and not superior. He had the kind of heart that God could talk to, which usually means an attitude that can receive from others.
He was a sincere teacher of the things of God, but was not current. He only knew the teaching about John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. So a nice couple, Priscilla and Aquila, took him aside and updated him. He received it and his ministry took on significant expansion.
Jesus talked about being able to have new wineskins (Lk. 5:37). He said you can’t put old wine in new skins. You must put new wine in new skins. That stands for teachability. Old skins have no more flex and they break. That is the person who can’t learn anymore. Be like Apollos; be glad for the ground you’ve already gained, but be open to gaining more.
It’s a fact that God will talk to us through people, sometimes very unlikely ones. It’s important to not despise the message because you may not like the messenger. God used a donkey to talk to someone once (Num. 22:28). I’ve had that happen many times: A person I wouldn’t normally like gave me some valuable business information recently. I’m glad I listened. Being open and guidable is a valuable life trait. Solomon said, “Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king who will no more be admonished” (Ecc. 4:13). If one reaches great position but doesn’t stay open in heart, he’s really smaller than a child.
In the case of Apollos, the two people who helped him certainly did not have the academic qualifications he had, but no matter, God used them anyway. Of course, they did the instructing with grace and class. They took him aside privately, not publicly, and did it in the right spirit: “…the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Pro. 16:21).
The person God can talk to is the one who wants Him to talk to them:
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser...” (Pro. 9:9).
Feelings: a good friend, but a poor master
“…the voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” Gen. 27:22
I believe feelings can be safe at times, but not so at other times. They are like a friend that you can sometimes, but not always, trust. We are made with them and there is a place for them. Some Christians say, “I’m not moved by what I feel; I’m only moved by the Word.” That sounds good, but it’s not that cut and dried. God will sometimes use feelings to confirm or impress something upon you. Walking with Him is not just a cold, clinical, sterile transaction – we are made to feel and experience the journey. Emotions are part of the package.
Once when Jesus healed a woman with a 12 year ailment, it says “…she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague” (Mk. 5:29). Feelings in this case were reliable and had a place. No doubt about it. Once Paul said, “I had no rest in my spirit,” when referring to a certain situation (2 Cor. 2:13). His feelings were accurate in this instance. If your peace is removed, maybe God is trying to tell you something. It says to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” (Col. 3:15). That can definitely involve feelings. So you can’t just flatly say that feelings never matter. Jesus Himself said on one occasion, “Now is my soul troubled…” (Jn. 12:27). This was an accurate feeling in this instance.
At other times, we need to be careful about following our emotions. In the above verse in Genesis 27:22, a father was misled by his feelings when he gave the blessing to his sons. He was supposed to give it to Esau, the older, but instead gave it to Jacob, the younger. He went by his senses and his son’s hands felt like Esau’s. But actually the younger son had put on Esau’s garments and it fooled the father, Isaac. In this case, the dad should have gone with the voice, because that was accurate.
You won’t go wrong if you simply know the Word of God and stay with that. The Word won’t mislead you. The feelings and nudges you have can help guide you too, if they are confirmed by the Word. If they differ from the Word, then you should stay with the Word and let the feelings go. Feelings can’t be the final authority for us, only the Word can, but they can help us along the way.
If you’re stuck, Jesus isn’t
“…stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…” Ex. 14:13
Some people are stuck in life, and so are some nations, churches, businesses and so on. But Jesus is not stuck and He wants to help. It’s not wrong to be stuck, it’s only wrong to stay stuck. If you’re stuck, He’s going to take action for you, whether it was your fault or not. He said, “all power in heaven and earth is given unto me,” and He is absolutely going to do for you what is needed to get things moving.
I think of Guinea, Africa, where I was born and lived until age 10. It’s a “stuck” nation. It’s termed “perpetually broken” by the UN experts. It was a French colony and went independent in 1958. It’s just never stood up and walked. Nothing ever works. It’s blessed with great people and resources, but has terrible self-serving leadership. It’s only had two leaders, both inept dictators, since 1958 and has never had a free election. They still don’t have paved roads, industry, or phones. Most have given up on it, but Jesus hasn’t. He’s still going to help them.
Life can be like that where you just seem stuck. You’re not getting anywhere. You know there is a dream in your heart, but it just isn’t happening. Or maybe there isn’t even a dream. That’s okay, because God will step in and even give you that.
In the above verse, God was taking Israel out of 430 years of captivity in Egypt to a new land. It was good but not always pretty. They got stuck on the way. The army of Egypt was pressing from behind and the Red Sea was up ahead. There was nowhere to go. I know that feeling. But that’s when God came through for them. I know that feeling, too. He said to stand still and opened the Red Sea and let them go through.
At times, you just have to be still and see the salvation of God. That means to shut things off and just watch Him work. Praying, fasting, studying, praising and so forth are all correct things to do. But there will be times after all that where you just must stop everything and let Him do His work. Paul said, “having done all, stand…” The way to a breakthrough is sometimes exactly that simple and easy.
“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me…” (Ps. 138:8).
“Shall I bring to the birth and not deliver?” (Isa. 66:9).
Things I remember – making plastic and hard things
“Thou hast shown Thy people hard things...” Ps. 60:3
You can go through hard things, but you don’t stay in hard things. In this verse, it sounds grim for David and his people, but they moved through the circumstance and went on to better things. There is a “going through,” but also a “coming out.” We also read that “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Just as there is a night, there is also a day. But when you’re in the night, you tend to think that’s all there is. But don’t fall into that - there is also day. David also said: “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but thou brought us out to a wealthy place” (Ps. 66:12). You go through, but you also come out. God is very good at bringing nice endings, if you just stick with Him.
I once heard Johnny Cash asked what the hardest thing he’d ever done was. He said, “That’s easy, picking cotton.” If you asked me the same question, I’d say, “That’s easy, making plastic.” From 1995-1998, I worked at a plastic film extrusion plant in the Tacoma tide flats. It was easily the toughest, baddest thing I’ve ever done: dangerous, fast, angry, intense, mean, often no lunches or breaks, 12 hour shifts going from day to night, lots of mandatory overtime, open on holidays, noisy, hot, steel shoes, head and ear and eye protection, non-union, and so on.
I had seen an ad for five openings. Over 600 applied, and after many tests, I was one of the five hired. I was 44 and older than the others and was pretty overwhelmed the first few days, but then the Lord spoke to me. He made me understand that if I got through this, there would never be anything that anyone could ever do to me that would matter.
Then He gave me a dream. There were three planes: an ultralight, a Cessna, and a big World War II plane. I immediately knew it meant three years, the amount of time I’d be there. It also meant that I started out weak but then got very strong, just as the planes increased in strength. That’s exactly what happened. I became stronger so that the conditions became no big deal. After three years and one day, I got an offer for a position as a director in a computer college – no lie. I came out to better things. You will too: “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof…” (Eccl. 7:8).