Just As He Said

tomb

God is a perfect example of faithfulness. Many well-meaning people may attempt to exemplify faithfulness, but they can’t hold a candle to God’s perfect, promise-keeping nature. His very name is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11), and He keeps His word to a “thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8). In fact, Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Hebrews 6:18 confirms that it’s impossible for Him to lie! With this kind of reputation, we should have no difficulty trusting Him.

Unfortunately, our human nature has a hard time putting full confidence in something – or Someone – we cannot see. We are so led by our five senses that anything out of our physical reach or vision seems impossible. We have been so scarred by examples of unfaithfulness in our life that we don’t want to trust anyone ever again. Even God is added to the list of “do not trust,” and we walk away, disillusioned and hardened.

A lack of trust in God’s faithfulness is not a new flaw. It started in the Garden of Eden when Eve believed a lie from the devil rather than the truth of God’s Word. The distrust continued right up to Jesus’ Resurrection, the most glorious day to those who believe in Jesus!

God expects us to believe His Word, so faithfully He gives us a word to believe. He communicated with His disciples the same, giving them a prophecy of His betrayal, crucifixion, and His resurrection.

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”  (Matthew 20:18-19)

These were attention-grabbing words! To those who followed Him for three years, it meant a disbanding of their group and the loss of Someone they had come to love. Regardless of Who said those words, however, the disciples rejected them. They continued on as usual, marching joyfully through Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, oblivious to what lay ahead of them. From then on, every tragic, yet God-ordained event, took them by surprise. Sadly, the doubt in God’s faithfulness continued right up to the tomb.

“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:1-6)

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary left behind their mourning friends and prepared to do what any grieving mourners would do – apply spices to Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). They were prepared, not for a resurrection, but for a corpse, wrapped in burial clothes. They expected guards on site, and a stone inhibiting their entrance. Instead, they found an open tomb and an angel sitting calmly, waiting for their arrival.   Within minutes their unbelief in Jesus’ third-day resurrection melted into faith and they quickly left to obey the angel’s orders.

When the two women left to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, they were met with further unbelief (Luke 2:11; Mark 16:11, 13). The disciples doubted their words, even though the Jesus’ previous words backed them up! Later, Jesus was gracious enough to give the unbelieving disciples a refresher course concerning everything He had said before about His redemptive acts (Luke 24:44-49). The talks didn’t come without a verbal spanking, however. He rebuked them for their hardness of heart and unbelief, the root of their fear and lack of expectation (Mark 16:14). Sadly, even after this, doubt didn’t completely leave the clan of “disciples.” Even as Jesus stood on the mountain and gave them the great commission, some still doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Unlike God, human nature would have stomped away in disgust after hearing so much unbelief. It would have given up and left all prophecies in the dust because it was too difficult to get support. God, however, cannot lie or change His mind. He has no Plan B. Abortion of a plan is not an option. It might take years of patience as He waits for people to take Him off the “do not trust list.” It may take consistent prodding of His presence and repetition of His Word to soften a person’s hardened heart. Regardless of what it takes, He knows He will find, in time, someone who will believe His Word and act on it.

God’s desire for us is that we be of the believing group and not of the unbelieving. He wants us to believe His Word the first time, followed by expectation that He will do just as He said. He wants us to have confidence in His faithfulness. He wants our faith in Him to go beyond what we can see, reaching for the humanly impossible Resurrection power. To those who believe that Resurrection power, all things are possible (Mark 9:23).

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b)

 

 

 

Two Mites

Two tiny eyes peered from the hole in the stone wall, flitting this way and that as they searched.  At last the owner of those eyes ventured from his darkened abode and stole across the hard, cold stone floor.  His silent little paws moved him toward the base of a rustic wooden cabinet in the corner.  His whiskers twitched as he sniffed the cracks between the stones.  Nothing.  Once again the gray mouse was deprived of his daily bread.  Crumbs had been scarce the last few months, but recently they had vanished all together.

Disappointed, he plopped down on his haunches and stared about the small cottage housing his own home.  Though cleaner than a priest’s white robe, the stone interior was also bare.  No drapes, no rugs.  Just a rickety stool near the window and a cabinet by the wall.  Even the sun was not allowed to bathe the stones with its golden light.  The shutters were closed for almost every hour of the day, keeping the corners dark and cold.

Suddenly the mouse stiffened.  His ears perked up warily as a faint sound moved in on the silent atmosphere.  Footsteps!  Turning his tail around, the mouse scampered back to the safety of his little hole.

A moment later the shuffling footsteps reached the door.  The entrance was then flooded with light as a stooped figure entered the house.  The light only remained a few moments, however.  With a creak the door was shut once again.

The person moved toward her stool in the corner and let out a sigh as she sat down.  With callused fingers the heavy brown veil over her head was removed, revealing long gray hair and an age-weathered face.  Puah was only fifty-two, but a hard life after her husband’s death several years previous had worn her down to look like a weak old woman.   Her shoulders were thin and stooped, tired under the weight of worry and pain.

The woman’s weary gaze roamed the single room.  Was this her fate?  Was she to die in a cheerless, empty room with a pantry barren of even a crumb of bread?

Once again footsteps were heard outside the house. Puah turned to open the shutters and looked out to the bright outdoors.  A large group of people talked cheerily amongst themselves as they passed by on the street.  A few steps behind them came several more, and like the first, carried small bags of money.  The widow’s heart leaped within her frail body.  It was the day to bring offerings to the temple!

But as soon as the excitement arrived, it disappeared.  She had nothing to give.  Nothing.  It had been ages since she had held even one small mite.  The compassion and pity of her neighbors had been all that had sustained her these last few months.  Yet now she yearned to give.

“Oh, God of my fathers,” she cried, “the psalmist said he had not seen the righteous forsaken, nor their seed begging bread.  Here I am now, oh great Jehovah, a poor, starving widow in need of bread.  Have mercy on your maidservant, I pray, and grant me something to give.”

Puah turned from the window and returned to her stool.   Across from her stood the old cabinet her husband had made to grace their new home when they were married.  She had sold everything to buy sustenance after poor Thomas’ death.  Only this weathered piece of furniture had remained because she hadn’t been able to sell it.

Now an overwhelming feeling urged her to search the compartments.  She stood and shuffled across the floor and began to open the cabinet doors.  Finally she reached the last door on the bottom . . . and there lay two mites.

“Oh, my Lord!” Puah exclaimed, scooping up the precious coins.  “You have heard my cry!”

Two mites were the least one was allowed to give in the temple offerings.  But it didn’t matter.  She now had something to give!

With new strength in her bones, Puah hurried from the house.  Her anxious feet carried her down many streets until she reached the temple where she would plant her seed into Jehovah’s work.

Inside the busy temple, thirteen trumpet-shaped chests lined a far wall.  Each was designated for different needs.  Without hesitation, she hurried over and tossed her two mites into the one marked for the poor.

As the mites clinked onto the coins inside the chest, Puah did not realize a man in the corner was noting her actions.  He turned to a cloister of men behind him and said, “I tell you, that poor widow cast more in than everyone else who has given.  They cast in out of their abundance, but she, out of her lack, cast in all that she had.”

Puah left the temple, feeling more strength and joy than she had experienced in months.  She walked upright with a spring in her step, a smile gracing her wrinkled face.   Inside was a knowing that her God would provide for her every need.

Her pleasant walk soon ended and she neared her small home.  As she drew closer, she noticed a large basket on her front step.  Curious, she knelt before the heavy package and peaked inside.  What she saw made her gasp.  Inside were a colorful assortment of fruits, several loaves of fresh bread, and a bright, new purple outer garment.  In the corner nestled a leather bag.  Puah reached in with a trembling hand and scooped up the small pouch, tipping it up side down to allow the contents to spill out.  Her eyes grew wide as glimmering coins fell into her lap.

“Oh, God,” she wept joyfully.  “You have kept your promise and have turned my two mites into plenty.  You are my Jehovah-Jireh!”

 

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38