Desperate to Meet Jesus: At His Feet

Mark 5

Mark 5 22b

Have you ever had the opportunity to go see, and possibly meet, a celebrity (actor, musician, athlete) in person? Ten years ago, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots were in Arizona to play in Super Bowl XLII. You may be thinking that I tried to get to see either Eli Manning (the Giants quarterback) or Tom Brady (the Patriots quarterback). But my interest wasn’t in either of them. No, I knew that Eli’s brother, Peyton, would be in town to attend some parties before the game. I had a friend of a friend of a friend who had tickets to one of those parties and I daydreamed hard about getting to meet the future NFL Hall of Famer.

 

A few years before that I was in Monaco and my tour guide had heard that George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damen were supposed to be filming a scene in the movie Ocean’s 12 at the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The group of students that I was traveling with and I stood with a crowd of people for almost an hour hoping to get a glimpse of the three actors. Well that never happened. But we did get to witness two extras walk down the steps of the casino and that scene is in the movie, so it wasn’t a complete waste of our time. Kinda.

 

When I read Mark chapter 5 I imagine that the crowds that followed Jesus around were a bit like the superfans of a celebrity. Wherever He went, masses of people would go and seek Him out. Not because He was rich and famous, but because they had heard He could perform some pretty crazy healing miracles. In this chapter we read about three people who were not just highly interested in meeting Jesus, they were desperate to meet Jesus. And so they did what they had to do, to get near Him. The demon-possessed man saw Jesus at a distance and ran and fell on his knees at Jesus’ feet (verse 6). The father of a dying young girl worked his way through the crowd and fell at Jesus’ feet (verse 22). The sick woman reached through the swarm of people to touch his cloak and then fell at His feet (verses 28, 33).

 

Desperation brings you to a place of complete abandonment of pride and social decorum and a complete surrender to experience an ounce of relief. Imagine being so in need of healing that you fight your way through a crowd of strangers to fall onto your knees at the feet of Jesus. The wonderful thing is that Jesus had compassion on each and every one of those people and He will have compassion on you too.

 

But Jesus doesn’t want you to humble yourself just when you’re desperate for healing. He wants you to be desperate to spend time with Him every day, even when things are going well for you. His desire is for us to sit at His feet and enjoy His presence no matter what is going on in our lives. Remember Mary, Martha’s sister, who sat at her Lord’s feet and she was praised for doing what was right (Luke 10:38-42)? Mary had the right idea. It’s during these times that we learn how to follow Him and to love Him. It’s during these times that we understand what it means to love others and become a fisher of men.

 

Psalm 16:11 says, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” When we find ourselves at the feet of Jesus, life, in all of its complexities, will begin to make a little bit of sense because we no longer view things at face value, but we get glimpses of how our life experiences fit into God’s eternal plan. Yes, we will still know sorrow and grief, but we will also have an eternal hope, a peace that surpasses understanding, and overflowing joy.

 

So let’s take a few minutes to fall on our knees at the feet of our Savior and Lord.   

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

 

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The Storms of Life

Mark 4

Mark 4 41b

As I write this, masses are evacuating Florida in the anticipation of Hurricane Irma. By the time you read this, I hope that the storm has passed and that the loss will be minimal. I pray for the recovery teams who will be in the areas doing their best to help families begin to put lives back together.

 

In Mark 4 we read about another storm. One that scared the disciples beyond anything that they had ever experienced before. This huge squall was both a test and a teachable moment. Jesus was testing the men’s faith and trust in the Son of God. Jesus also used this time to teach the men the extent of His great power. If these men had any doubts before about who Jesus was and what He was able to do, His calming the winds and the waves certainly would have clarified any misconceptions, don’t you think?

 

I think that we all have to experience a storm or two in our relationship with Jesus in order to find out what our faith is made of. I can think of several of you who I personally know and the storms that Jesus has lead you through and how it has reinforced your faith. I too have been tossed about in a violent storm and the only thing I knew to do was to call out to Jesus. I’ve had my share of nights where the only thing that brought my mind enough peace was to sleep with an open Bible on my bed and my hand literally resting on God’s promises. I’ve had days when anxiety was so great within me that the only thing that could keep the negative thinking at bay was to read Scripture out loud for hours on end.

 

If you are not currently experiencing a storm, then now is the time to make sure that you are in the Word daily and living out your faith while the waters are calm. 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

 

If you are living through a storm right now, hang on tight. Hebrews 4:14 encourages us with this: “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith that we profess.”

 

I many not know the details of your personal storm, but I do know the One who is powerful enough to keep our boats from overturning. And He certainly will bring you through to the other side. Believe. Trust. Love. Obey.

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

Answer the Call

Mark 3

Mark 3-13

About seven years ago, one of my very closest friends was pregnant. She and her husband already had one daughter who was birthed at home and they had decided that their second child would also be born at home. She asked if I would babysit the older daughter during the delivery. Of course, I said yes.

 

I got a call one morning from my friend and she explained that she was experiencing contractions and that I should be ready to come over in a few hours when the contractions got closer together. Ok, no big deal, I thought. I’ll run a few errands, take care of some other stuff and I’ll simply wait for the call. About four or five hours later, she calls and says, it’s time to come over. Sweet! I was excited!

 

I got to her home and her husband wasn’t there yet, he was still at work. The midwives weren’t there yet, they were stuck in traffic. Oh boy! What had I gotten myself into???

 

I helped her prepare the bed for the delivery and get some other things situated. Thankfully, her husband eventually arrived and the two of them went up the stairs while I stayed downstairs with their little girl. Finally, the midwives busted through the front door and I told them where to go. I decided to take the little girl outside to her playset and within 20 minutes, their second daughter was born.

 

After a bit of time, my friend’s husband, came down stairs and invited me upstairs to introduce me to the newest member of their family.

 

It was only after I had left to go to my own home that I realized what I could have ended up doing if the husband and midwives hadn’t shown up in time. And so, I was so incredibly honored that my friend had asked me to be part of her delivery day. But I never would have been asked to be there in the first place if I hadn’t developed the close relationship with my friend a few years before.

 

In Mark 3, we read about Jesus inviting his closest followers to become His apostles. Simon, James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas had all first responded to Jesus’ call of becoming His disciples. They learned from Jesus. They witnessed miracles being performed. They left all that they had to be obedient.

 

Now Jesus was asking for more. He was getting ready to send them out and become fishers of men. A task that wasn’t asked of everyone. This was an important task, one that demanded, not just knowledge and readiness, but a dedication to persist through great trials and tribulations. These men probably had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they said “yes”. But to them, because of the relationship that they had developed with Jesus, the promotion He was offering was the natural thing to agree to.

 

Here’s the thing. Jesus wants our relationship with Him to be so close, so intimate, so natural, that when He asks us to do something, to go somewhere, to minister to some person, that we don’t have a second thought about it. In fact, when we realize His desire for us to do something, it’s an honor and privilege to serve Him in whatever task He’s given us.

 

I was not prepared to deliver a child into this world, but I would have been willing if the need arose. Likewise, I may not know exactly what Jesus is going to ask of me today, tomorrow or the next, but I am willing to do whatever He asks of me. Are you?

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

The Strength of Christian Friends

Mark 2

paralytic top

Many years ago, a precious lady in our church was coming to the end of her battle with cancer. One of her closest friends, also from our church, was sharing that she had been to her bedside to visit. While she was there our friend said that she could no longer pray for herself. The visiting friend reassured her that she had fought the good fight, she had finished the race and she had kept the faith, but it was time for her to rest and others would be praying on her behalf.

 

I’m not sure why this has stuck with me for probably longer than 20 years. Maybe it’s because I know that the bond of friendship between these two Godly women had endured a great many of life’s other trials as well as celebrations.

 

In Mark chapter 2 we see another wonderful example of friendship. Four friends going to extreme measures to bring another man to the Great Physician. Because of their faith, the man with the physical disability was healed and the five of them walked out of the room together. Can you imagine the celebration that took place among them and their families?

 

I realize that many lessons from Mark 2:1-5 have been taught about faith and the healing powers that Jesus demonstrated on that day. But to me, my attention always gets drawn to the message of how important friendships are.

 

We are not meant to walk our faith out in isolation. Faith is meant to be experienced in community. I know I said this in yesterday’s post, but we need others of like-minded faith, by our sides. This is so, so important. Our friends in the faith are who keep us on track, who support us when life gets tough, and who help us cheer when life is spectacular. And just as importantly, we do the same for them.

 

My prayer for you is that you have a network of people with whom you can do life together.  

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

Wanna Go Fishin’?

Mark 1

Mark 1-17

I used to own a pair of fish that my best friend gave me. I thought I was a decent fish owner. But then I went off to Australia for three weeks and when I returned, I came home to find that the slow-release food supply that I put into the tank, didn’t dissolve. My poor fish starved to death. Oops.

 

So your reservation to take seriously any of my mentioning of fish, fishing, or fishermen would totally be understandable.

 

But I ask that you hear me out, just this once, for this particular topic. Afterall, I did my due diligence and Googled some information.

 

Mark 1:17 says, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Being a fisherman was way back then and continues even today to be a daily job. Likewise, as we follow Jesus daily, our casting of nets should happen every day we are around others. If we are called to be fishers of men, all of our interactions need to be with the purpose of building relationships and showing others, verbally and nonverbally, what life with Jesus as our Lord looks like.

 

Peter and Andrew knew when the best time to go fishing was. According to www.takemefishing.org (I’m totally serious… ) the best time to fish is usually later on in the day. I know that there are probably a gazillion other variables that should be considered, so don’t go dismissing the bigger picture here. Later in the day, the fish are primed for feeding because their metabolism and digestion are roaring. There is a lesson for us here – in order for people to win others to Christ, they need to be primed. In God’s own timing, a person’s heart will be open to receive the Gospel. As fishers of men, we need to be praying for those opportunities to present themselves so we are able to discern what to say and when to say it.

 

We know from verse 16, that Simon (later called Peter) and his brother Andrew used nets for fishing. Not a pole, line and lure, but nets. They caught hundreds of fish at a time. When Jesus says that he will make us fishers of men, I think His intention is that we not just teach a few people about Jesus, but that we influence hundreds of people, over our lifetime, to consider what life as a follower of Jesus would look like.

 

We also know from verse 16, that fishing was not a solo effort. It demanded at least a pair to get the job done. Our faith is meant to be in a community. Yes, Jesus goes off to a solitary place in verse 35 of Chapter 1, but that doesn’t mean we live in a vacuum. Working and serving with other believers is how our faith is supposed to be carried out.

 

I fully admit that sharing the Gospel is not my strength. But as I read this verse, I became convicted that this is something that I need to take more seriously. That’s partly why I chose it to be the verse to memorize for the week. So even though it is a short verse and easy to commit to memory, it’s potential to change my life and the lives of those around me, is significant.

 

Wanna go fishin’?

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

Greetings from the Grand Canyon

HAPPY SUNDAY!

We are excited to be starting a new week – and a new study.  The last several weeks we have been exploring the Old Testament book of Proverbs – a great look at wisdom – and foolishness.  This week we jump into the New Testament book of Mark.  As one of four books often referred to as gospels, the book of Mark gives a great picture of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  And, this week we welcome Bethany Ligon as our devotions writer.  She is one of the FUEL directors and resides in Arizona.  Watch the video to meet up with Bethany and hear her introduction for this week.

From Bethany …

Keep Reading!

Proverbs 1-5a
SATURDAY Weekly Re-cap with Megan Bryant
This week, we read through the last few chapters of Proverbs.  As I said at the beginning of the week, Proverbs is a collection of timeless wisdom.  We looked at pieces of this wisdom ranging from true friendship to confessing our transgressions to being satisfied with our daily bread.  And since these posts didn’t focus on every verse, I would encourage everyone to read back over Proverbs as a whole and analyze the verses not discussed on this blog.  Every time we read the Bible, we have the opportunity to grow in a new way.  We may see a verse in a new light or notice something that we may have missed before.
Let’s continue to learn and grow as we continue to read through the Bible, but also look back over what has already been read to gain new insights.
-Megan Bryant