Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah
Imagine not knowing anything about cars, coming into a car shop and telling the mechanics what’s wrong with the car they’re working on. Imagine telling Peyton Manning how to throw a football, or Michael Jordan how to shoot a basketball, or Tiger Woods how to swing a golf club. Imagine telling Dave Ramsey how to save money. Imagine telling Paul McCartney how to write a song.
We get the idea, there are some areas of life where people have proven themselves knowledgeable or experienced. It could be a talent they honed, or a skill they developed. It would seem unwise for one who doesn’t have the training, the knowledge, or experience, to give advice to one who has devoted their life on the subject.
That must have been what these fishermen were thinking. They know fishing. They eat, sleep, and breathe fish. Their livelihood depends on it. Jesus wasn’t a fisherman. He was the son of a carpenter. H was a wise teacher. But He wasn’t a fisherman.
They had spent all night on the sea and come away with nothing - a tough part of the profession. To some of us Jesus’ words would have seemed insulting. But these fishermen knew enough about Jesus to trust what He said, even if they felt like they knew better.
What resulted was an amazing display of power and wisdom. By His command the fish were all in one place - enough fish to fill a ship. This was no man - only God could create an abundance from nothing. The miracle proved to the men there that not only did Jesus know more than they did, it proved that they should listen to Him.
There comes a time in our lives when we realize that we don’t always know what is best. On our own we try to live and lead successful lives and end up empty, frustrated, in great need of help and grace. But then we look to Jesus who offers another way to live. At first His way may seem restrictive, constraining, even demanding. It requires great changes to meet His expectations. Some stop there, not interested in listening to the Lord. But when we see the cross, when we gaze into the empty tomb, we realize that not only does Jesus know more about life than we, but that listening to Him would bring about a better life than one we could ever hope to achieve on our own.
An abundance of fish was the result of the fishermen who listened to Jesus. Just as those who listen and follow His words today are promised abundant life (JOHN 10:10). The question is, “Are you listening to Jesus?”
Loving and forgiving Lord, You are Master of all. Every being, every beast, every created thing was made by Your will. You speak and the fish obey, the demons listen, the storms submit. This miracle we considered provides such a wonderful reminder that You offer far more than we could possible comprehended or imagine. Through examples like these, help to broaden our faith, deepen our trust, that You can truly do all things. Like the fishermen, we too believe You are Lord, and You are God. To You be all honor and glory and praise, Creator and Savior of all.
The story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter and the woman with an issue of blood, give us a wonderful picture of God’s character and grace. Jesus has just left the shores of Capernaum to escape the crowds and in the interval had calmed the raging storm and delivered a man from the grasp of a legion of demons. As he returned, a large crowd swarmed the shore to greet Him and seewhat other miracles He might do. The crowd was loud, but it was silenced immediately by an extraordinary scene. Bowing before Jesus, the leader of the synagogue came and pled with Jesus to come with him and heal his dying daughter.
Jairus had not been known to be friendly toward Jesus. Jesuswas an outsider and even accused of heresy. Jairus’ bowing before Jesus was truly amazing!
That’s not to suppose that Jairus suddenly became a follower of Jesus. Emergencies and urgency often move us to do things we would not otherwise do. The fact is, Jairus is desperate. He had heard of Jesus healing, and he sees Jesus as his only chance to save his daughter. Jairus is like so many who came to Jesus. They do not come out of love or faith. It was out of desperation and a glimmer of hope. Despair commonly is the prelude to grace. Jairus incipient faith would bring him great rewards.
Jesus is interrupted by a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She touches the hem of the garment of Jesus and Jesusfeels the power go out of Him. He begins to look around and asked, “Who touched me?” This woman was at her wits end. She had spent all she had going from doctor to doctor, test after test and no results. When she saw that she could not hide, she fell before Him claiming she had been healed. Immediately,Jesus praised her for her faith. Jairus sees Jesus heal this woman and he has a flicker of hope for his daughter. Then came the shock: “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from thehouse of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’ Hearing this, Jesussaid to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’”
When Jesus reaches the house of Jairus, He went into the house with James and John and took the girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, arise.” She did! Her parents rejoiced and all wereastonished.
The whole story is a vast tale of divine providence - a desperate father, a dying girl, a desperate woman, a delayed Jesus, a believing woman, a dead girl, a living girl, a believing man. The choreography of Heaven is awesome! Jesus can do anything! He is sovereign! Nothing is too great for Him. He can save our soul! He can restore our soul! He can supply our most desperate need!
I want you to notice what Jesus did in verse 36. Ignoring what they said, Jesus said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe” (5:36). We’ve got to ask ourselves if our faith rests on God’s word or the words of faithless men. Who are you going to believe in the darkest hour? God or men. It’s interesting to me that I don’t find that Jesus ever said anything to Jairus until verse 36. But, in the moment when the need was the greatest, God will give the person of faith that which he needs to hear—if He’s the one you desire to listen to. Who do you listen to? Sometimes you need to ignore the words of men and just go on believing the promises of God, the word of God.
Again, put yourself in Jairus’ place. When they told you your little girl was dead, Jesus said, “You just ignore what they said and go on believing.” And you get to your house, and He does it again, “She’s not dead, she’s just asleep.” And a whole house full of people start laughing. What are you going to do? Who are you going to believe then?
You’d better answer that question because I want to tell you something. If you are a Christian, you may or may not know it, but you are supposed to believe a lot of things that the world laughs about!
In fact, the message of the cross is foolishness to people that are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). Most of the things that we believe as Christians are laughable to the world! And if we don’t realize that yet, it is because we just haven’t told too many people what we believe. What are you going to do when people laugh?
Prayer: Lord, we praise You for Your great power and desire to have compassion on us in our great time of need. We know nothing is impossible for You! Like Jairus, we come bowing before you, pleading for healing of our sin sick souls. Like the woman with an issue of blood that man cannot heal, we come to You pleading to heal our hearts, souls, and minds which no man can heal. And, when all laugh at Your great power to save, we pray we will believe!
Who Touched Me?
Have you ever been in a big crowd, pressed in on one another? Like pressed in on a subway, each person crammed into one another. That’s what is happening here. There are so many people in this crowd that everyone is bumping into each other.
That’s what makes Jesus’ question so funny. He asks, “Who touched Me?” And the response of the apostles is essentially - “What do you mean? Everyone has touched you!”
But there’s a point Jesus is making here, because in this crowd is a woman who sought out Jesus. She came, she reached, she touched, because she believed. This is a woman who was out of options. She had suffered from a blood disease for 12 years. That’s 12 years of suffering physically, socially, spiritually, and financially. She poured everything she had into doctors and only ended up worse. But here came Jesus. She had to try… but rather than asking, she reached from behind.
The question of Jesus indicates an important lesson: there’s a difference between bumping into Jesus and the touch of faith. Without a doubt other people who were sick or afflicted bumped into Jesus. But this is a woman who touched the Savior believing that simple touch would make her well. And she was right. While internal bleeding today would require deep investigation, medication, and likely surgical treatment, for Jesus it was only a touch.
The question of Jesus was not meant to humiliate the woman, rather it was to highlight her and her incredible faith. What was it that made this woman well? Jesus said it was her faith. Don’t forget it. There are many who come and go when it comes to Jesus - but there are some who come and reach for the Savior because they believe who He is and what He can bring to their life. Don’t bump into Jesus as you press through your busy schedule. See Him for who He is. This is God in the flesh. This is the great physician. Like this woman, take time each day to come, to reach towards Jesus. Come…take…learn - just as He has invited (MATT 11:28-30)
Precious Savior, what a wonderful story You recorded in Your gospels. I thank You for sharing the faith of this incredible woman. May I have the faith that comes reaching for Your power, that comes pleading for Your grace. Help me not to be as the many who pass right on by, not realizing who was in their midst. You have invited us to come to You, to experience genuine rest. Help me to see You, even in the midst of a crowded schedule, and always press through to You. Thank You for making time to hear us when we pray, as You gave this woman the time to pour out her heart. No matter how desperate or empty I become, help me to remember to always bring my cares and concerns to You, the One who can do all things. All glory to You, beautiful Lamb of God. In Jesus name, Amen.
Healing The Blind Man
Jesus is in the city of Jerusalem. Previously He made the claim, “I am the light of the world” (John. 8:12). Passing by, He saw a man who was born blind. He placed clay on his eyes and told the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The miracle causedquite a commotion in the city because of the day it occurred. It was the Sabbath.
In this remarkable sign, Jesus revealed Himself as the master of light, exercising control over the power of darkness. His claim to be the light of the world stood confirmed. Likewise, He was and is the master over adversity. He can turn one’s darkness into the light and make each forget the long years of darkness in which he had walked.
Of all the divine healings recorded in the gospels, it’s interesting to note that the Lord’s most common healing activity was the removal of blindness. We have more instances of Jesus healing blind people than any other thing He did. Why is that significant? The blind man himself points out the significance,“Since the world began it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind” (vs. 32). Out of all the healings in the Old Testament there is not one example of giving sight to the blind, let alone one born blind. In the New Testament, there is no example of any of Jesus’ followers being instrumental in bringing about such a miracle. The closest we come to it is the occasion when Ananias laid hands on Saul and prayed, with the result that his temporary blindness gave way to normal sight. But this is nothing like the miracles that Jesus did on the man who had never seen throughout his entire life. No, it seems as though restoring sight to the blind was strictly the work of Jesus Christ.
John 9 is a powerfully, validating illustration and commentary on Jesus’ claim in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world, and unless you come to Me you’re going to live in darkness.” John 9 illustrates the fact that Jesus means exactly what He said. He is indeed the light of the world. He is the only one who can take away darkness, whether it be physical or spiritual.
Spiritual blindness is a choice. We can choose to see or remain blind. Jesus will not impose sight on us. He is willing to give sight to the blind, but He will not force the blind to see. Am I willing to have my spiritual sight restored?
No one is born spiritually blind. Sin blinds man. Christ came to give light and restore sight. We are born innocent. Sin and darkness enter and blind us to the goodness of God. It is so sad that innocence and sight are lost. Our own lust blinds us. The good news is, we can see. Jesus will restore our sight.
We never know how good we have it until we lose it. We sing, “I was blind but now I see”. Only having experienced blindness, do we appreciate the great blessing of sight. Paul prayed that the Lord would give the Ephesians the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of theirunderstanding be enlightened…. (Eph. 1:17-18).
Prayer: Lord, please open our eyes so that we might see. We open our hearts to You. We want to see You. We want to see goodness. We want to see the way.
Peter’s mother-in-law is sick, but… Have you ever done that before? “Is your loved one sick?” “Yes, but it’s just a cold… just a bug…just a sinus infection…”
No, it’s not a paralyzing disease. No, it’s not leprosy. No, it’s not demon possession. It’s not blindness, it’s not deafness. It’s just a fever.
But it wasn’t “just” a fever to Jesus. It was a woman who was suffering. It was a mother who was ill. It was a loved one who was afflicted. It was one made in His image, enduring the aftermath of the evil one.
Don’t overlook this miracle. Don’t roll your eyes at what seems minor. Don’t miss this moment of grace. Jesus comes, takes her by the hand, and lifts her out of her bed, and out of her suffering.
What did Jesus just demonstrate to Peter, the future fisher of men? No fish is too small. No soul is unworthy. The gospel is for all. Jesus came for all. The time, attention, and compassion He gave to Peter’s mother-in-law is the same time, attention, and compassion the world will soon require from this gospel preaching Apostle.
Be on guard against the “justs” that enter our mind. Don’t downplay your suffering. Don’t speak for God where He clearly hasn’t spoken. Suffering, no matter how small in our eyes, is still suffering - and God notices every tear. God sees every pain. God knows every heartache. If anything, it’s “just” not right, it’s “just” not what God created; it’s “just” not home. But He came for the “justs”, reminding us one day it will “just” be perfect - and what a day that will be.
Holy God, right and true, thank you today for this precious moment with a disciple’s mother-in-law. Thank you for showing us that no suffering is too small, no pain is insignificant, no hardship escapes Your sight. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that Your compassion and mercy know no such bias or boundaries. Help me not to shy from bringing my pains and concerns to You, trusting that You know, You understand, and You care. How great is Your mercy, how wonderful Your care. What a compassionate King You are, my Lord and my God.