“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9.
The Parable of the Sower
In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus is teaching us that he is the sower and the seed is the message, the Good News, the gospel, the Word of God.
Four different types of soil are mentioned in the passage. These four types of soils represent how we receive the message.
First, we will look at each of these soils and what we can learn from them.
The Four Soils
When the seed is thrown on the path, it has no chance of taking root. It will either be scorched by the sun, or it will be picked up by the birds.
Jesus is telling us that for those who have a heart like the path, the message will land and soon be snatched up by the enemy.
Because it disappears so quickly, there is not enough time for us to understand what we have heard or what we are supposed to glean from it.
It vanishes before it has a chance to make any impact on our lives at all.
No good farmer or gardener would lay seeds on the path. Seeds need to be planted down deep into the soil where they can take root, find water and nourishment, and grow.
Perhaps it has been awhile since you walked down a dirt path, but for the people in Jesus’s time, they would have understood this image very clearly.
They didn’t have concrete or pavement. They knew quite well how worn the path is from all of the foot traffic. Like the path, our hearts can become worn; worn from the everyday routines, the struggles, the stress, and the cares of this world.
When the seeds of a Word from the Lord are tossed at us, we can continue in our routine and the seed is trampled on. Before that Word can make a difference in our lives and in our hearts, it is plucked up by the enemy and it is gone.
The Stony Ground
When the seed falls on the stony ground, it is not stolen or ignored, it is received.
Have you ever heard a really good word from your pastor? Have your ever been super excited after a bible study or a retreat?
In these times, the Word that you are given from God is so good and it gets planted into your heart.
This time you decide that you are going to make a serious change. This time, you are going to break that addiction. This time you are going to make God a priority in your life, this time you are going to…(insert broken promise here).
Although it begins to sprout, it doesn’t last long.
Because the soil was rocky, the Word doesn’t have a chance to form deep roots; without deep roots, it cannot survive. It will be scorched by the sun, blown over by the first strong wind, or washed away in the storm.
On the surface, your faith looks impressive, but what is happening underneath matters.
You may be able to fool yourself and others for a season, but the heat, the wind, and the rain find us all—you can’t fool God.
You need depth.
You need something solid to keep you grounded when the wind blows and the storms come. Your heart needs to be attached to Jesus or you will wither, shake, and fall.
The Thorny Ground
The seeds that fall on thorny ground are Words from the Lord that are received, and they are deeply rooted.
As the Word is springing forth and blossoming, there is something else growing in your heart. Thistles, weeds, and thorns are the cares of this world and they grow fast, are very strong, and they are deeply rooted.
The roots of the thorns intermingle with the roots of our faith and they begin to choke and strangle, and steal vital nutrients from our hearts.
In my landscaping, there are weeds that pop up through the mulch. I can pull them out and literally the next morning they are back, like I never even removed them.
The reason they come back is because I only pulled what I could see, I didn’t get them at the root. The strength of the weed is found deep down in those places in the unseen—where it is deeply rooted.
It’s the same with the anxiety, fear, and other issues of the world that you are struggling with. You may think you have gotten rid of it, but have you dug it up at the root?
Until you can, it will keep popping up; reminding you, taunting you, strangling what God wants to make beautiful with its ugliness.
We can’t let the cares of this world choke and steal what God has for us—we must pull the thorns out by their roots when we recognize that they are trying to steal the blessing.
The Good Ground
Oh the good ground! How we should always strive for the good ground!
The good ground refers to those hearts that receive the Word, that Word is deeply rooted, and that heart tends and cultivates the seed with maturity and great care.
A good gardener knows how to care for his/her garden. The good gardener knows that the plants in the garden must be planted in rich soil, fertilized and watered with prayer, worship, and reading God’s Word everyday.
It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have rocks that try and stop the roots from going deep. It means that the good gardener sees the rocks and removes them before they become a problem.
It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have weeds and thorns. It means that the gardener recognizes them when they pop up and deals with them immediately.
The good gardener knows that things don’t grow overnight. A healthy garden requires time and patience; but eventually the garden will flourish and prosper and yield a bountiful harvest of life and beauty.
New plants when first planted are small. But in time they not only grow, but they multiply and they spread. So too is the Word that is given to the good soil. It will grow and multiply and spread to others around them.
The Word of God
Jesus, as the sower, scatters the seed on all types of ground. Why doesn’t he just throw the seed on the good soil?
If you were a farmer, wouldn’t you be meticulous and put your seed in those places where you knew that it would grow?
I believe it is because Christ came to share the Word of God with everyone, not just those who were saved and sanctified.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31.
Jesus’s mission was to rescue sinners. He is calling ALL to be good ground.
Examine your own heart today. Know that Jesus will continually and freely throw you the seed of his Word.
What the Bible has to say about casting your cares on Jesus can help free you if you are feeling trapped under the heavy weight of burdens today.
The Burdens of Life
Burdens. We all experience them. Job stress, financial strain, marital difficulties, the child who has lost their way, failing health; they come in many shapes and sizes, but they come for us all. However, the bible tells us that we are to cast our cares on the Lord.
But what does that mean?
The cares of this world hang on the clothesline of our hearts and steal our joy and zap our strength. You feel like you are running a marathon until you look down at your feet and realize they are stuck in the mud.
You know that God loves you, you know that he hears your prayers, and you know that he will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), but what happens when you feel like you have been thrown into the pit of despair and you can’t climb out?
What do you do when your anxiety blinds you to these truths about God?
The Fisherman on the Lake
Let me give you an example of casting in the natural.
Picture with me, if you will, an angler gliding his fishing boat down the sun-kissed waters of a river. He comes to a place in the water where he feels assured that he will find what he is searching for.
Perhaps he has been successful there before, maybe someone told him that this was a place of multitudes.
Either way, he drops his anchor slowly until it holds him securely to the solid ground. Most importantly, the fisherman knows he will not be successful if he drifts aimlessly; he knows the anchor holds.
As he skillfully casts his line into the deep, he does so with an expectation that there is going to be an exchange. The fisherman anticipates that as he throws what he has (the bait) into the water, a transaction will take place. He will trade what he no longer needs for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses (the fish).
But what does that mean for us?
Casting Our Line to Jesus
Like the fisherman, we are called to come to the Living Water and to drop our anchor into the solid foundation of Christ’s love, grace, and mercy. Similarly, through prayer, we place on our hook all of the things in our life that we want to exchange.
As the burdens of our world dangle like bait, we cast these cares into the deep, and we wait in anticipation for the transaction to take place; for God to take that which is no longer needed and trade it for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses our heavy souls.
Fishing in the natural as well as the supernatural is a process. Time and patience are required to wait for the blessing. We must be willing to trust God in the waiting. (For more about waiting, read my YouVersion devotional, No Waste in the Waiting.)
There is an expression, “fish or cut bait”. This simply means that you must make a decision to keep advancing or to give up. What is also true, is that when we are praying, we must keep our line in the water and have faith that God will come and make the holy transfer.
Because, if we pull it out of the water too quickly, we may miss the blessing.
Let’s look at four ways that casting our cares on Jesus can become a reality.
It is true that God knows our thoughts, but I also believe that God is calling us to speak to him in prayer. Instead of just thinking on things, calling them out, and being specific about what is burdening us, and what we want God to do for us.
Remember that prayer is not for God, it is for us.
Releasing those fears and anxieties out loud can bring its own type of healing. You can’t change won’t you don’t acknowledge.
The truth is, there is power in letting go of those things that are holding us in the pit. There is an exchange that occurs when we cast our cares on Jesus and do it with our voices.
Here is what you need to do, cry out to God, shout your fears, scream what makes you anxious, whisper your needs—God wants to hear your voice!
Soak in the Word
First, get into God’s Word! Whatever it is that is keeping your feet trapped in the miry clay, the answer is found in scripture. Many people write to me and say, “I don’t where to look in the bible for answers.” The answer I give them is to use the technology that is right at your fingertips.
First, Google it! You can put any keyword + bible verse in the Google search bar and you will find many resources that will lead you to not just one, but many scriptures on the subject.
Then, take the time to read those scriptures, either online, or even better, in your own bible. Write them down, highlight them, put them in a journal, put them on sticky notes. Do whatever works best for you. The point is that you begin to see that all the answers to your questions can be found in the glorious scriptures.
Finally, try memorizing scriptures that pertain to your particular situation. Because, when you need them in those desperate times, they will be there and you can speak them to your problems.
Oh how the enemy HATES worship! It’s true. There is nothing more effective at defeating the lies of the devil as when you sing songs of praise and worship to our God.
One thing that can happen when we are bogged down with burdens, is that it can make us very self-centered. Our focus becomes mired in— me, me, me.
This is a dangerous position to be in, and it is an open door for the enemy to come and tell you lies that sink you further into the pit. (For more about the lies of the devil, read my blog, “5 Lies from Satan You Must Stop Believing”).
Worship takes the focus off of us and places it directly on God. Rather than fixing your eyes on your problems, you fix your eyes on Jesus; casting your cares on the Lord through song!
Surround Yourself with Other Warriors
God did not design us to carry our burdens alone. My hope is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ who you trust and who can help you carry them.
Choose a few of your closest Christian friends and share with them the issues and struggles you are going through. In addition, ask them to join you in prayer and thanksgiving for the answers you are seeking. Because, keeping all of the fears, anxieties, and struggles to yourself can cause more undue stress.
When Moses could no longer lift the staff and the Israelites began to lose the battle, his two friends stepped in and helped him hold the staff up high.
We aren’t meant to do this life alone. Sometimes, the burdens are too heavy. Allow others to help you carry the weight so you don’t have to carry it alone. Essentially, allow others to help you win your battle.
Friend, I know that you are going through a difficult time. Just know that God is there to carry the burdens you are trying to carry on your own. Be encouraged that God loves you and that he is making a way where there seems to be no way. Have faith and trust in God’s timing. Know that even if your prayers aren’t answered immediately, there is no waste in the waiting!
God’s blessings be with you,
Susie and Between the Gardens Ministries
This week, try and think of a strategy you can use to incorporate the 4 s’s to casting your cares on Jesus:
If you are going through a dry season and you are needing refreshing from the Living Water, order your copy of my new book, Abundant Rain from Amazon today.
Abundant Rain is a 40-day devotional dealing with the struggles, situations, past hurts, and regrets that can lead us to feel overwhelmed and spiritually dry. The devotional takes you on a journey of self-exploration through the Word of God to bring you life-giving water to quench your thirsty soul.
I also recommend you try my YouVersion devotional, Broken to Blessed. This 5-day devotional will walk you through times of brokenness and how to find the blessing from that which God breaks. (This devotional has over 10,000 completions!)
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Silence. Sometimes what causes us the most pain and confusion isn’t what God says to us, but the fact that in the midst of a difficult situation, God seems to say nothing at all. What do we do when God is silent?
I went through a heartbreaking situation several years ago that left me on the floor in tatters. My eyes were swollen and red from days of tears splashing down my cheeks.
These are the moments when you lay on the ground like a pile of dirty laundry and you cry out to God for help, for comfort, and for answers.
The sun rose and set day after day and I began to question God. Where was he? Did he hear me?
WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER ME?
Where is your treasure?
The pain that I was in became all-consuming. The situation that I was facing was as deep as the ocean and I was being consumed by the roaring waves. Hurt and heartbreak were my two faithful companions that went with me everywhere.
I could not work without them. They were with me in my bed in the night season. We shared every meal together. Nothing else mattered, they had become my treasure. For the worth that you place on something in your life is evident by your priorities.
God’s silence is how it feels, but that doesn’t mean that is how it is.
Be on guard of the enemy during these times
The enemy will come to you in these times when you are spiritually dry and empty and he will whisper lies to you. And, like a moth to a flame, sometimes we lean in to him and allow him to plant seeds of doubt.
Know that your enemy will always try and defeat you when you are weak. He is a liar and the father of all lies. We must learn to protect ourselves with our spiritual armor for those times when he lingers near. (Read “5 Lies From Satan You Must Stop Believing” for more about this subject.)
Some of the greatest victories can come from those times when we are spiritually dry and empty. (If you are spiritually dry, order my new book, Abundant Rain, a 40-day devotional devoted to overcoming the dry places.)
It may feel like he is absent, but he is there, working in the background, making all things work together for your good. (Romans 8:28).
Deep calls to deep
Perhaps God is silent because he wants to teach us something about faith and trust. We want our problems to be solved and our questions answered right now; because we live in a society of “right now”.
Think about it, any information that you need, any questions you need answered can be done in seconds. But God is not Google and his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
What I learned from my situation is that God was calling me deeper; he saw me crying out to him from the shore, but he wanted me to come out upon the water where feet may fail but he won’t let me drown.
The deep things of God were calling out to the deep things inside of me. (Psalm 42:7).
The answer isn’t always obvious
I did not hear an audible voice answering the questions that I had for God about this situation, but that doesn’t mean that he was not speaking to me. As I began to shift my focus from the way things were to the Way Maker, I realized that his answers were coming to me in unique ways:
Scriptures that spoke to my situation
Worship music that lifted my heavy heart
Friends who were there to encourage me
Not all of God’s riches are obvious. Some are buried below the surface and can only be discovered as we dig and search for the buried treasure.
Nothing is wasted
Little by little, day by day, God began to slowly bring me out of the broken place. I was able to come to him with arms open wide and soak up his love for me. I learned that much can be said in the silence. My job was to obey his command to be still and know that he is God and I am not. (Psalm 46:10).
Looking back now at that difficult time in my life, I see the abundant blessings that I received from the Lord. There were many lessons learned and most importantly, I grew exponentially in my faith and in my relationship with him.
I say all of this to encourage you, especially if you, too, are going through a time of brokenness and you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered and that God is silent.
There are two choices to make. We can pitch our tent in the campground of bitterness, pain, and callousness, or we can build an altar on the holy ground of his presence and watch, wait, worship, and pray until the answers come.
If you are in a broken place, I encourage you to read my YouVersion devotional, “Broken to Blessed” and I pray it is a helpful weapon in your arsenal as you fight this battle you are facing.
I pray you go deeper than you have ever been and know that although everything seems dark right now, the Light of the World is there with you every step of the way guiding you to victory.
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation in which you and your spouse are spiritually incompatible. You are what is know biblically, as unequally yoked; one of you is a person of faith and the other is not.
I have seen this happen a lot in the church today. Typically, it is women who are sitting alone in church. They confess that their husbands are believers, but they see no need to attend church every Sunday.
In my situation, the roles were reversed. When my husband and I were first married, it was me who was not going to church and my husband was strong in his faith.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I want to tell you my story, how I came to know the Lord, and how it changed the trajectory of our marriage.
Looking Back on My Marriage
My husband and I stood face to face on the beach; our hands interlocking so tightly it was hard to discern where one began and the other ended.
The sky, like an endless canvas, had been brushed by the Creator with striated hues of red, gold, and splashes of violet—colors and patterns no human artist could conceive.
I looked at my husband as the ocean breeze blew strong through our graying hair. He smiled his familiar smile; deep laugh lines like bookends for his crystal blue-gray eyes.
Twenty-five years ago, I stood in front of a boy and vowed to love him forever. The boy was now a man, weathered by life’s experiences, joys, and heartaches. Our lives had changed and blossomed in ways that we could have never imagined.
So much time had come and gone as gravity pushes and pulls the tide and the tide pushes and pulls the sand. We gazed at each other while we reaffirmed our vows.
The sun and the moon where both visible as dusk was approaching and they stood as our witnesses. But, as we held each other, waves licking our legs, we knew that it could have been so different.
You see, when we were married, we were unequally yoked.
What the Bible Says About Spiritual Incompatibility
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, yoke is defined as, “fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding to them the traces by which they might draw the plough.” (biblestudytools.org).
The often stubborn and unreliable donkey may refuse to move. The donkey may veer to the right or the left, leaving ground unevenly plowed; creating an atmosphere for important seed to go unplanted.
When my husband and I were dating, we ignored that we were on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum.
I had walked away from God and the church several years before. He was a spirit-filled believer who attended church every Sunday. There were red flags and caution signs, but we ignored them all.
We were deeply in love and blinded by that love. Looking back now, it is unbelievable that the discussion never came up. How good we were at planning the wedding, yet we forgot to plan for a lifetime of marriage.
After we were married, this issue grew from a tiny seed into Jack’s beanstalk in the middle of our living room. Every Sunday was the same. He invited me to church, I refused, he came home angry—rinse and repeat.
This went on for several months and the strain of what we once ignored was like a thin rope that was tearing more and more each week. Anger, resentment, and bitterness were sprouting where only love used to grow.
I knew something had to change; I knew I had to change.
I loved him and I didn’t want to lose him, and I didn’t want to be divorced. I swallowed my pride and I agreed to go with him to church. The first time I went I felt uncomfortable and out of place.
His church was so vastly different from what I grew up with. I wanted to run away that first time. The weight of the guilt I felt was overwhelming.
I know now that the Holy Spirit was convicting me. Like the prodigal son, my Father was calling me home and I felt unworthy of his love and acceptance.
After several months of reluctantly attending church, I made the decision to go to the altar and accept Jesus as my personal Lord and savior. The giant in the castle was defeated, and the beanstalk was cut down.
If You Find Your Marriage is Spiritually Incompatible
I want to encourage those who are reading this, and you find yourselves in a similar position. You know that you and your spouse are unequally yoked.
An ox can plow alone, and a donkey can plow alone, but they cannot plow together. It takes two of the same kind to successfully cultivate the soil of your hearts.
Perhaps you are feeling the strain of it and you are at the end of your thin rope. I want to encourage you to keep praying. All you can do is plant the seed and then wait for the Holy Spirit to do his part.
And if you hit a spiritual wall, keep praying and keep pressing in. You will find your breakthrough! (For more on spiritual walls, read my blog, “Hitting the Spiritual Wall.”)
In my situation, it was the fervent, unwavering prayers of my husband that saved me. It was not his insistence, his resentment, or his anger—it was prayer. You can’t change your spouse’s unbelieving heart—only God can do that.
In this three-part series on what the bible says about discipleship, we will be exploring what it means to be a disciple of Christ, how we can disciple others, and how to use modern technology; the internet, blogs, and social media to teach, mentor, and disciple other believers.
In Part One, we will be exploring discipleship on a personal level.
How do we go from being believers to true disciples?
Jesus prayed, “I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)
Let’s first define what a disciple is.
The word disciple comes from the Greek wordmathétéswhich means pupil, learner, student, or apprentice.
If we think of an apprenticeship, we think of spending time, sometimes years, under the tutelage of a master in a particular field of study or work.
For a Christian apprentice, the master is Jesus, and the field of study is the Gospel.
We are called to be His apprentices; to study, to learn, and to put into practical application all we have been privileged to learn from the Master.
A good apprentice learns to do what the teacher does or to become what the teacher is.
This is the true calling of the believer, to enter into an apprenticeship with Jesus in order to do what Jesus does and say what Jesus says—this is discipleship—to become like Jesus.
The Church Today
So why isn’t this happening more in the Church today? Dallas Willard says in his book, The Divine Conspiracy :
“Churches today are full of people who haven’t been invited to become disciples. Being a Christian has come to mean going to church and being saved when you die. The ministry of the church is given over to “making the final cut” and solving our daily problem, not discipleship.”
If we are called to the higher purpose of discipleship, why aren’t we heeding the call?
Perhaps many Christians are not sure what discipleship even looks like. We will look at a few of the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus.
Are you ready to start your apprenticeship?
Characteristics of a Disciple
I believe there are many characteristics of being a disciple of Christ.
In Part One of this series, we will look at the following:
passionately committed to Christ
bearing good fruit
understanding the cost
Let’s look at our first characteristic.
1. Discipleship and Being Passionately Committed to Christ
The First Disciples
I like the way Dr. Gary Burge describes discipleship in the context of our commitment to Christ:
“To be a disciple means having the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in us. It means having a supernatural, interior experience that is completely unlike anything available in the world. It is a way of believing and a way of living, but these are nurtured by the life-giving connection with Jesus Christ.”
When I think about how we are to be fully and passionately committed to the cause of Christ, I can’t help but think of the disciples that chose to walk with Jesus.
Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, were seasoned fishermen who were casting their nets into the sea. When Jesus came toward them He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Immediately they dropped their nets and followed Him.
This is the part of the story that I find amazing and shows us real commitment to following Jesus as a disciple.
What was it about this stranger that assured them that they could lay it all down; their jobs; their livelihoods, their families, and their futures to follow Him?
Remember they did not know Jesus yet. He had not brought sight to the blind or hearing to the deaf.
He had not healed the leper or made the lame walk.
Jesus hadn’t fed the 5000, or raised Lazarus from the dead.
He was a stranger, but there had to have been something about Him.
I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke something into their hearts to allow them to see something unique in the eyes of Jesus that told them He could be trusted.
There must have been something about the tone of His voice that made Peter and Andrew look at the sea and instinctively know that Jesus was the Captain; that He knew the route, for it was He that created the sea itself.
Many of Jesus’ disciples had the same experience as Peter and Andrew. They gave up everything to follow Him.
They stayed with Him, listened to Him, watched Him perform miracle after miracle, and watched Him die and rise from the dead.
The disciples were the original apprentices to the Master, Jesus. They may or may not have realized it, but Jesus was preparing them to be like Him in the world.
They had to learn to be disciples so that they could then, disciple others.
What Jesus Says About Being a Disciple
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple.”
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Is Christ saying that if we follow Him that we must hate all others in our lives?
What Jesus is telling us is that our love for Him must be so strong that all other love is like hatred in comparison.
Carrying the cross means death to self. Like the first disciples, Jesus is calling us to drop our nets and follow Him.
Follow Him in complete trust and faith as we walk with Him into the unknown; our ships sailing into uncharted waters, but knowing all along that we are with the One who created the sea itself.
Jesus cannot get the job done with half-hearted followers—we need to give it all to Him, we need to be fully committed to Him.
Those who are not willing to give up all will not be used by Him.
I want to be used by Him, but I know that I must also be bearing good fruit.
2. Discipleship and Bearing Good Fruit
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”John 15:7-8
I like the way Beth Moore describes this relationship between the vine and the Vinedresser in her book, Chasing Vines:
“If you’re in Christ, He is your true vine, whether you realize it or not. But a whole new way of flourishing begins when you know it. When you count on it. When you live like it. When you let go of the vines you thought were giving you life.”
So why did Jesus say that we must bear fruit to prove to be His disciples?
It is not by accident that Jesus referred to fruit. Fruit has in it the seed for more fruit so that the process goes on and on.
We will look more at discipling others in Part Two of this series, but I want to touch on it here for a moment.
Jesus said we are the branches, but look at any tree or vine that bears fruit.
The branch doesn’t eat the fruit, others do.
“Spirit produced fruit will go on reproducing from one life to another. Your fruit, given to another, will plant a seed that allows them to bear fruit, and then they give their fruit away and so it continues.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Good fruit produces more good fruit and discipleship reproduces more disciples.
But your fruit must first be good fruit, and that only happens as you abide with Jesus.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
Abiding in Jesus takes us back to our first characteristic: Being Fully Committed to Christ.
Like the vine and the branches, they are all connected; it is a beautiful picture that Jesus is showing us, but even beautiful things can have dangerous thorns that we aren’t anticipating.
The life of a disciple is not an easy one, and it comes at a cost.
3. Understanding the Cost of Discipleship
Jesus invites us to come to Him. He tells us, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
Salvation is free, but discipleship comes at a cost.
We have already looked at the sacrifices of self that we discussed in the first section of our text, but there is more.
We need only look at what happened to the original disciples to understand the cost:
Stephen was stoned to death
Peter was crucified upside-down
James (brother of John) was killed by Herod by the sword
Paul was beheaded
And many of the other apostles were said to have been martyred.
We know of many Christian disciples who have been martyred in the past, and many who continue to be persecuted and martyred today.
Discipleship and the World
Why is the life of a disciple of Jesus so difficult? Why is there such a cost?
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you has its own. As it is, you don’t belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
Discipleship comes at a cost because we are no longer of this world. We are in it, but not of it.
And that is the choice. That is what is so hard for so many—giving up the world and worldly things to follow Christ and to be His disciple.
Perhaps that is why Jesus said that the gate is narrow and few go through it.
Maybe that is why Jesus said that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.
How many are willing to pay the cost?
When Jesus came to the earth as a man, He didn’t need the disciples. He could have accomplished every task he desired without them.
He chose to partner with them.
In the same way, God doesn’t not need us to accomplish all that He wishes to accomplish on the earth today, but He wants us.
Oh how I pray that you will let this sink down into your spirit today!
God wants you to partner with Him. God chose YOU!
No matter what the cost, there is no price that can be placed on doing the will of the Father.
He has placed you at this time and in this place for a reason. It is now up to you to decide if you will choose to partner with Him. It is time for you to choose to love the world or be hated by it.
Do you just want to sit by and hope that you “make the final cut”, or do you want more?
This is an important question, because unless you become a disciple, you cannot disciple others.
That is what we will be discussing next week in Part Two of our series: Discipling Others.
Be blessed as you choose to be a true disciple of Christ,
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu
Join me as we discover how two men found Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
Would you strap on your sandals, grab your favorite cloak, and take a walk with me down the dusty, crumbly, dirt road that led to a village called Emmaus?
Let us experience the journey with these two disciples as they walk side-by-side in the sun and with the Son.
As with all good stories, we must set the stage. It is important to add some context to the story before we start this journey through the pages of Luke 24:13-35.
The Gospel Account
Let’s go back a few verses and discover what was happening on this amazing day. “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again,’
Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:1-11.
They did not believe.
The Road to Emmaus
“Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.”Luke 24:13.
I can only assume that, human nature, being human nature, the story of the crucifixion of Jesus would have been the talk of the whole town.
In present day, I imagine it being all over Facebook and trending on Twitter. Strange that the two men were talking about what had happened in the past and neither seemed to be talking about the miraculous news that they had been given earlier in the morning.
The tomb was empty and two angels appeared to proclaim that Jesus had risen. But remember, they did not believe. They remained in a state of discouragement and disappointment.
I am going to give these two men the benefit of the doubt for a moment.
It is easy for us, who know the truth, to become frustrated with their lack of faith. I can only imagine how difficult this time must have been for them, and for all who had followed Jesus.
How challenging it must have been for them to reconcile the events that had occurred just three days before.
The One they had loved was dead and lost forever. Now they were left alone, shocked, confused, and discouraged.
Who Jesus Was and Who They Thought He Should Be
Why were they discouraged? I believe that their discouragement and their disappointment manifested from a misinterpretation of what Jesus came to Earth to accomplish.
Many in that time felt that the Messiah would be a conquering King and a Redeemer who would free Israel from the tyranny of the Romans.
To redeem someone means to rescue them from a bad situation.
The disciples, like many who followed Jesus, didn’t understand that He had come not only to redeem Israel, but all of mankind.
Here is the disconnect: They were looking for a warrior and Jesus came as a servant.
God didn’t do what they wanted Him to, in the way they wanted Him to do it, and this left them discouraged.
We will always be disappointed and miss the truth when we superimpose our will over God’s.
For what Jesus fulfilled in his death and resurrection is so much greater than any idea or plan that a mere mortal could conceive.
Jesus Joins Them
As the wind blew and dust swirled around them, the travelers exchanged impassioned words and asked legitimate questions.
And then they both came to a stop as an unannounced man came to join them on their walk.
I picture the two men looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders, and beginning to walk again—not knowing WHO had joined them.
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”Luke 24:15-16.
How could the perfect, resurrected Jesus walk with them and they didn’t recognize Him?
We can assume from the text that this was an intentional divine intervention.
We cannot know the motive of Jesus at this point, we can only make assumptions as to this act of divine blindness.
Perhaps Jesus wanted us to see that He does walk with us during our darkest times, but sometimes we block out the signs and signals God is sending us.
He is walking right beside us, but we are looking at our circumstances through our human eyes and not our spiritual eyes.
Unbelief can be like a veil that prevents us from looking into the unseen.
These two men were certainly looking for an answer and what they didn’t realize was that Jesus was the answer.
This part of the story gives us a picture of what was meant in Matthew 18:20:“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”
Oh this gives me such hope! There He was in the midst of them.
“He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:17.I can almost picture a smile widening on the face of Jesus in this moment.
One of the men, named, Cleopas, seemed annoyed that this stranger could be in Jerusalem and not know the hottest topic going around like wildfire throughout the city.
Hasn’t he looked at his Twitter feed? Jesus smiled again and asked innocently, “What things?”
Jesus Wants to Talk About Things He Already Knows
How desperately patient our sweet Jesus is when we tell Him things that He already knows.
As the two men began to recount the events of the last few days, Jesus listens attentively to them; without interruption, without correcting them.
Even when Jesus could still envision the hammer as it hit hard against the iron nail over and over; tearing through skin, tissue, and bone.
Even as the memory of the agonizing pain He had felt as His body pulled and stretched, suffocating Him until death remained fresh.
He listened. What a beautiful moment of grace personified.
How true is this for us when we come to Jesus in prayer and we cry out and tell Him what is happening in our lives.
When we share our pain, our frustrations, our heartbreaks, our fears, our problems—as if in His omniscience, He doesn’t already know what we are doing, thinking, and feeling.
But we know that we are called to talk to Jesus.
For me this exchange between Jesus and the two men reminds us that we are to pray not because God doesn’t see the mountain we are facing.
We are called to pray because He is the only one who can remove it.
Prayer is for us—not for Him. Prayer helps us to build our relationship with God, it helps us accomplish God’s work, it is a weapon of spiritual warfare, it is valuable to God.
But nothing you say to Him in prayer is a surprise. David said in Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
My friends, He so desperately wants us to talk with Him!
Jesus Takes the Men to the Word of God
Next, the men said to Jesus:“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” Luke 24:21.
This reference to the third day was most likely related to the Jewish belief that by the third day after one’s death, the soul has left the body and the chance of a resurrection was no longer possible.
Then the travelers told Jesus about what had happened that morning—how the women had told them about the empty tomb, the angels who proclaimed that Jesus had risen, how some had gone to the tomb to see it, but they didn’t see Jesus.
Obviously, the two men did not see the paradoxical nature of what they were saying.
“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”Luke 24: 25-26.
Jesus did not perform some supernatural or spectacular event. He took them to the Word.
The Word who became flesh, the God of the Word took them to the Word of God.
Because the Word is what stands, what endures, what remains when everything else seems lost.
The flower will fade and grass will wither, but the Word of God will remain. In the beginning was the Word.
The Word created the universe and the Word holds the universe together.
The Word is true, honest, and objective. When everything is sinking sand, the Word holds.
Jesus didn’t just give a litany of all of the prophesies, He brought back to their memory all that had heard concerning Him—the Messiah.
Jesus showed them what we must look for as we read the Bible; we need to look for Jesus Christ on every page.
Seek Him and you will find Him.
It Wasn’t A Head Problem, It Was a Heart Problem
He could have talked to them for days about all that the Word had to say about Him, but their eyes would still have been closed.
Warren Wiersbe says it like this, “They did not believe all that the prophets had written about the Messiah.
As they read the Old Testament, they saw the glory but not the suffering; they saw the crown but not the cross.”
It was not a head problem, it was a heart problem.
And when there is a heart problem, there is only one place that it can fixed—in the Word!
As they approached the village, Jesus continued on as if He was going to go farther, and the two men urged Him to stay and dine with them as the hour was getting late and it was growing dark.
Jesus Joins Them For Supper
Jesus agrees to join them for supper and so they sit at the table and dine together.
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them, Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24: 30-31.
I love this part of the story and I want you to see something very important.
Let’s set the scene again. Jesus and the two men are now off of the road. They are probably in the home of one of the men.
Jesus has agreed to dine with them. Remember what it says in Revelation 3:20? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
The men had heard Jesus’s voice and they had let Him in. Now they would eat with Him and He would eat with them.
The scripture tells us that Jesus was at the table with them.
In some translations, it says that Jesus reclined at the table with them. It is important to understand the culture and tradition of the time.
In biblical times, people did not sit in chairs at a dining room table like we do in the West.
The tradition was to recline, to lie on one’s side, leaning on one elbow. It was much more intimate and casual than we are used to here in America.
So there they are, the three of them, reclining at the table over pleasant conversation. Perhaps there are candles or lanterns flickering and casting a soft glow over the house.
The two travelers were probably tired from their journey, still trying to process what had transpired on the road; still trying to understand all that the stranger had told them.
The scripture tell us, however, that their hearts were burning.
Why Were Their Hearts Burning?
Why were there heart burning?
Why couldn’t they let the unexpected interloper go yet?
Because the Holy Spirit was alive and active and removing their spiritual blinders. The scriptures had unfolded before them and possibly for the first time they were beginning to fully understand what they meant.
That is what the Holy Spirit does for us as we spend time in the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit ignites a fire that burns inside of our hearts to want more and more of what God has to say in His Word.
Although we are not told this in the passage, I can imagine that the two men, who began their journey in sadness, had begun to feel joy, peace, love, and maybe even hope. And then…Jesus broke the bread.
It was not customary for anyone but the owner of the home to break the bread, but in allowing Jesus to take hold of this honor and give Him their bread, their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus.
Grace Millbrook says, “We must surrender our bread to Jesus. He can do more with it than we can! We must surrender totally to Him. Let Him into our lives, give Him charge over our bread, the rooms in our homes, cluttered or uncluttered, all must be turned over to Him. We have to show Him the parts of the house that we wouldn’t normally show anyone and give Him free reign . That is when their eyes were opened—in the surrender!”(gracemillbrook.com).
The Eyes of The Two Men Are Opened
“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”Luke 24:33-35.
What we see in this story is the transformative power of Jesus on these two, discouraged and disappointed men.
We see how the Holy Spirit moved into their hearts and unfolded the Word of God. These men were changed; spiritual eyes opened for the first time.
They were able to tell the others the good news of the resurrection, to lift the spirits of the disciples, to give them hope and a promise.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to see the redemptive power of the cross, and the true purpose of God sending His only Son to die on the cross.
Jesus is alive! And they were able to see Him in the breaking of the bread.
My Prayer For You
My prayer for you is that as you are walking along your path in life, Jesus would come to walk with you.
I pray that as you bring Him your doubts, your worries, and your questions, that you allow Him to take you to the Word.
I pray that you would allow Him to come and dine with you, recline with you, and sit at your table; that you wouldn’t want Him to leave.
I pray that the eyes of your hearts would be opened and they would be burning as the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of who Jesus is, why He came to this earth, the redemptive power of what happened on the cross, and the miracle that transpired as He rolled the stone away and rose from the dead.
I pray that you would find Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
If we are good students, we better be taking notes.
And so I scribble things in a journal I will probably never read again, and the bell rings and class is dismissed.
I stay in my seat in an empty classroom. It’s just me and God now. I look at my Teacher for permission to leave, but I don’t.
I don’t because I see the look on His face and it frightens me; although somewhere deep down into the core of who I really am, I know that He doesn’t mean to frighten me.
God is looking at me as if He wants to put the kettle on the stove and talk to me over a cup of tea. He wants to tell me things, important things; the way that my grandmother did whenever we shared a cup of tea.
As the kettle whistles and coughs white steam, God holds a teabag and whispers, “A teabag is just a teabag. Its strength only comes when it is placed in hot water.”
A sinking feeling fills the pit of my stomach because I know, and He knows, and I know that He knows, that I am not hot water nor am I cold water, I am the worst kind of water—I am lukewarm.
I don’t want to be lukewarm, but I am. I don’t want to be lukewarm, but I know that I am choosing to be. And, like Paul, I do the things that I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things that I know I should do.
And this time alone is like a giant mirror of self-reflection that I can’t escape from.
Here is what I have discovered—I am a runner. Lest you think too highly of me, I don’t mean that in the good way. I mean that in the most cowardly of ways.
I run to avoid.
I am like the mouse in a labyrinth that knows there is a wedge of cheese as a reward waiting for me, and I run halfway and then stop and hide in the corner; pretending the cheese isn’t there.
What am I so afraid of?
Taking me Deeper
I love the ocean.
Living in the Midwest, going to the beach once a year is like opening the best Christmas present ever.
The closer I get to the water, the air changes and so does my soul.
I love the sound of the waves as they crash again and again in their predictable pattern, the scream of the seagulls, the tangy smell, and the way the the sand squishes between my toes.
I don’t, however, go into the ocean. I stand at the shore and allow the frothy water to cover only the lower portion of my legs… but no more. It so large and so powerful. As much as I love it, I fear it.
And so I only go so far and no further.
I like the way my feet sink deeper and deeper into the sand each time the waves roll in and out. The longer I stand there, the more I become anchored in that place and I feel in control.
The shore makes me feel safe.
I am grateful in that moment that the Lord said to Job;
“Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?'”
I know Jesus is calling me out into the deep. I sing the words of the song, with arms raised, and eyes closed, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. Where my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (from “Oceans” Hillsong United.).
And I want to mean it…but I don’t. I want to mean it…but my actions prove otherwise.
Lyrics can be sung with your mouth and not felt in your heart. I can sing all I want to and still get it wrong, and then a song is just a song.
What am I so afraid of?
What I Have Discovered
You see what I have discovered in this unprecedented time of aloneness is that I will only go so far with Jesus and then I stop.
He wants to waltz with me through this one life I have been given, but He can only lead me when my feet are willing to dance.
Typically, my life is so busy that I can keep these truths at bay. I can fill my day and my time with the frivolity of life that seems so important and I can avoid what is really important.
I fuel my time with the things of this world and I put the things of God on the back burner. In the night watches, when sleep eludes me, I should be running to the Light of the World.
Instead, I run to the light of the cell phone screen.
Now the busyness has all been taken away and I am forced to ask myself:
Why won’t I let Him in? Why won’t I surrender? What am I so afraid of?
Every time I get close to the breakthrough, I hit a spiritual wall.
The Spiritual Wall
I know that many people hit spiritual walls.
But I believe that most people despise the wall. They beat hard against the wall with their fists.
They dig through the Word of God to find spiritual hammers they can use to strike, rip, break, fracture, and tear down the wall.
I have always found solace in the wall. The wall is a welcome reminder that I haven’t gone too far. Some walls are there to keep things in. Some walls are there to keep things out.
Each one of us must decide which of these describes our spiritual wall. And then… the virus came.
Things Are Changing in Me Because of the Change in the World
Miraculously, I am coming out of this quarantine different than when I went in. This virus has scared me, but in many ways it has scared me straight.
Oh what the devil meant for evil, the Lord truly does use for His good!
Time, like toilet paper and loaves of bread, was something I took for granted; something I thought would always be there for me.
The luxury of “waiting for the right moment” has disappeared like large gatherings and eating at a restaurants with friends.
I have come to a place in my relationship with the Lord that I have never been before. I have walked deeper into the ocean; I’m still only knee-deep, but it’s farther than I have ever been.
My feet are ready to dance. I am running toward the cheese. I am breaking down the wall brick by brick.
When I had it all I didn’t need Him. In this time of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, I realized that He was all I had. I have cried out to Him like never before. I have leaned into His Word like I never have before. I love Him like I never have before. What was I so afraid of? Avoidance was my normal.Not getting too close was my normal.Wanting to be in control was my normal. God is breaking through when I was broken down. I am experiencing a NEW normal with Him!
When I first noticed I was having symptoms, I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Strange things started occurring, especially during the night.
I would be asleep and then I would suddenly awaken with a multitude of physical symptoms:
feeling like the walls were closing in
feeling like I had to get out of the room
feeling like I was going to die
When I wasn’t having what I now know to be panic attacks, I would experience nervousness and dread almost all the time.
Even when things were good and calm and life was not stressful, my mind and my body was betraying me.
I had trouble sleeping; couldn’t turn off my mind. My thoughts would race like horses going around the track and never reaching the finish line.
Why My Anxiety Started
I had gone back to college when I was thirty-five to obtain my bachelor’s and my master’s degree.
It wasn’t long after I started back to school full-time that my symptoms began.
I knew I was doing a lot; going to school full-time, taking care of everything at home, trying to be a loving wife, a good friend, keep my obligations at church, and be a mom to two daughters who were 8 and 5.
Apparently, I wasn’t doing as good of a job as I thought at managing all of it.
It Seemed Liked No One Understood
As things slowly began to unravel, and I could no longer keep what was happening to me a secret and I revealed to my husband what was going on.
He didn’t know much about anxiety and so he was sympathetic, but I felt like he believed it was an easy solution of mind -over- matter. “Just relax,” he would say as he rubbed my shoulders. “I’ll try and help out more around the house so you don’t feel so stressed.
You’ll be ok.” he added with a kiss on the forehead.
But, he didn’t understand what I was going through. I’m not sure that anyone really understands unless they have lived it themselves.
Getting the Help I Needed
I finally got the courage to see my family doctor. It was then that I got an official diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
He prescribed me an anti-depressant and recommended that I see a psychologist for some cognitive behavioral therapy. Both of which helped me tremendously.
As helpful as my doctor was in getting me on the right track to feeling more like myself again, the best thing that he did for me was to reassure me that I was not alone, that there were many people who were dealing with the same issues.
And, most importantly, he told me that there was no reason for me to feel ashamed or embarrassed about my condition.
I had a real chemical imbalance and needed medication and help to deal with it.
The Real Medication Came From the Word of God
As wonderful as the medication and the therapy were, there was one more piece of the puzzle that I found helped me immensely and that was turning to the Word of God.
For that to work, there were a few things that I needed to accept and change:
I had to believe that God’s Word is true
I had to remember that He is a loving Father
I had to confess that I couldn’t handle this problem on my own
I had to see Him as my Jehovah Rapha—the Lord Who Heals
I had to change my thought patterns
I had to change the way I spoke about myself and my situations
There are many scriptures in the Bible that deal with the subject of fear and anxiety.
I am giving you seven of them; one for each day of the week.
Strategies I Used
This is one of the strategies that I used when I was in the midst of the anxiety nightmare.
I would pick a scripture and I would recite it every day, multiple times a day. I would highlight it in my Bible, I would write it down in my journal, and I would write it on sticky notes and put the sticky notes in places where I spent a lot of time—on my bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, in my car, as many places as I could.
Then, the next week, I would do the same thing for a different scripture.
There was something about the constant repetition of speaking it, writing it down, and seeing it everywhere that made those verses come alive for me in a way they never had before.
You can use any strategy that works for you.
Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Shame
I openly share my story because I know that there are people who are going through what I went through.
You may be confused as to what is happening, or you may know what is happening but you don’t know how to fix it.
See a doctor, get medication, get therapy if you need it, and trust the Lord who loves you and cares for you. He wants you to be healed.
7 Scriptures to Overcome Fear and Anxiety
Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Psalm 4:8: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
You’re Halfway Through the Week—Keep Going!
Philippians 4: 6-7: ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Joshua 1: 9: ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”
The Enemy Is Out to Get Your Mind
We fight a real enemy. He wants to attack your mind. One way we can fight the enemy and combat these unhealthy thoughts is through the Word of God.
I pray that you will use these scriptures in whatever method you feel comfortable to help you fight this insidious battle.
I also encourage you to seek medical help if you need to. There is no shame in admitting that your anxiety may need to be treated by a professional.
It is important that we break the shame that is often attached to mental illness. There should be no stigmatization—even for the Christian, especially for the Christian.
I recommend reading “Rhythms of Renewal” by Rebekah Lyons. She gives some practical and faith-based advice on how to trade your anxiety for a life of peace and purpose.
There are many scriptures to pray when we need a physical healing.
I know all too well what is like to be in physical pain and to suffer from physical ailments for years.
It can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you have been praying for a healing and it never seems to come. Let me explain a little bit about my own experience.
I will be honest with you, there have been moments when I have felt prayed out and discouraged.
I have spent many times on my knees, in my bed, in the shower, in the car, at church; praying for the same thing over and again and wondering if God was listening to me at all.
Let’s talk about some choices that we need to make.
We Have to Make a Choice
When you are dealing with long-term health issues, and the healing that you are so desperate for doesn’t seem to come, it can be a test of our faith.
These are the moments that we can make one of two choices: We can give up or we can keep pressing in until the healing comes. So how do we decide?
One of the things that I have come to terms with is that I may not be healed on this side of eternity, but I know that I will be whole and complete on the other side.
Paul reminds us in Romans 8:18:
“I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us.”
Although we try to find healing through our own means, let’s discover the prescriptions available in the bible.
All We Need Is in the Word of God
If you are feeling overwhelmed with health problems and are praying for a physical healing, these ten scriptures are a wonderful way to focus on God’s promises and provisions in our time of pain, frustration, and desperation.
You can highlight these in your bible, write them in your prayer journal, or read them out loud.
Even if you don’t get that instantaneous healing that your are so desperate for, these scriptures refocus your thoughts and can bring you peace of mind and hope.
Below you will find 10 of my favorite healing scriptures, I pray they will help you.
Scriptures to Pray Daily
Deuteronomy 32:39: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I would and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
Exodus 15: 26: “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD you r God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”
Exodus 23:25: “You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away among you.”
Psalm 30:2:” O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.”
Psalm 41: 2-3: “The LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.”
Psalm 107:19-21:”Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Isaiah 53:4-5: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
Jeremiah 17:14: ” “Heal me O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.”
Jeremiah 30:17: “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord.”
Malachi 4:2: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
As you begin to pray these prayers daily, there also needs to be a shift in our attitude, especially when it comes to thankfulness and gratitude.
Finding an Attitude of Gratitude in the Healing Process
These are just 10 of the many beautiful scriptures for physical healing in God’s Word .
They show us the promise when the hurt and healer collide.
I pray that you will keep the faith and not give up as you continue to search the heart of God in the scriptures and press on toward the prize.
I keep on believing, even if I don’t see it, He is worth my praise. Even if I don’t feel it, He is worth my praise.
Even when I don’t feel like He is working, He is worthy of my praise. He is the way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and light in the darkness.
One of the issues that I found in my own journey through physical issues, was that I was hyper-focused on the problems all the time and missing the other amazing blessings, both big and small, that God provided for me everyday.
If you find that you are in the same mindset, there is a way to change the way you think and focus on having an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving.
There is something powerful about changing the way you perceive what God IS doing in your life, rather than obsessing only on what you feel He is not.
Satan is a liar. As a matter of fact, Jesus called him the father of all lies.
He has been lying and manipulating human beings since he slithered into the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve. It is the devil’s only quest—to destroy as many people as he can.
The best way to destroy us is to try and keep us far away from God, and the calling of God on our lives. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are reminded,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
This is a warning that we must take very seriously. The devil is hiding in the bush, waiting for you to let your guard down so that he can pounce on you in your weakened state.
1. God isn’t listening to you.
This is one of Satan’s greatest weapons— to put doubt into your mind. You know that you are supposed to pray, but there are times when it does seem like God is not listening.
These times can be confusing for the believer. We find ourselves asking,
“Where are you God?”
“You said you would never leave me or forsake me, but I feel very alone.
“Just like the serpent in the Garden, with Eve, the devil whispers his hot breath in our ears and he asks us, “Did God really say?”
What God Says About Prayer
And if we are not careful, we can begin to question and doubt if God is hearing us and if he really cares. Look at the following scriptures related to how God feels about prayer.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:12
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5: 14-15
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
So, anytime you hear the devil try to convince you that God doesn’t hear your prayers, God isn’t listening, or God doesn’t care, you can read these scriptures.
Then, you can shut the mouth of that prowling lion.
Nothing defeats the enemy in the battle over your mind than you wielding the two-edged sword of the word of God.
God hears every prayer. He is listening. He cares.
2.You are too needy.
I went through a season a couple of years ago, where I went up for every altar call, every week for healing.
I was dealing with very serious chronic pain and all I knew was that I wanted to be healed.
After a few weeks, I started to feel a little embarrassed that I was up there every week. This is also a lie from the devil.
The enemy was telling me many things during that time. He was telling me that I will never be healed from this pain.
He was telling me that no matter how many times I go to the altar, this pain will never go away.
He was telling me that God is tired of hearing about my same problem over and over again.
Don’t allow the devil to plant these seeds of doubt in your mind.
Jesus doesn’t care how many times you come to him about your problem.
He doesn’t get annoyed when you come to the altar every Sunday. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
The devil wants to try to pull you away from God. Lysa TerKerurst says, “If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us.” (From: It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way.)
What the devil wants is for you to fill your cup with the things of the world, but know this, Jesus is the only one who can truly fill our cups.
“If the devil can isolate us, he can influence us.”
3. You don’t have a calling from God.
I have had a lot of my Christian friends say to me, “I really don’t know what my calling is. I don’t think that I have a purpose.”
Perhaps it hasn’t been revealed to you yet, but we all have a purpose and God has a calling for us.
1 Peter 2:9-10 describes who we are in Christ, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, now you are God’s people.”
You belong to God. You are His chosen one, His child, His beloved, His possession.
This truth leads us to this certainty, that if He calls you his own, you have been chosen, you have a purpose, and you have a calling from God.
Let me remind you that the devil is seeking whom he may devour.
If he can convince you that you are not chosen and you do not have a purpose, then this can prevent you from stepping into all that God has predestined for you to do in the kingdom.
The devil would like nothing more than to stop that.
DON’T LET HIM! Fight the enemy with every ounce of strength that you have left. Even if your prayers seem to go unanswered, please remember that God’s ways are not our ways,
God’s timing is perfect, but it doesn’t always follow our desired timeline, and He is working even when you can’t see it or feel it—He is always listening and He is always working.
We walk by faith and not by sight.
You belong to God. You are His chosen one. You are His child. You are His beloved. You are His possession.
4. You are too far gone in your sin to be forgiven.
Every time that the hammer hit that cold, hard iron nail into His flesh.
Every drop of blood that poured from the thorns in his scalp, every time a new piece of skin burned raw from the stripes on his back, Jesus was saying to you, “You are forgiven.”
We need to look no further than the story of the prodigal son. When the son realized that it was time for him to return to his father, he rehearsed what he was going to say.
He knew in his heart that he had made a big mistake and that his father may not forgive him; may no longer call him his son.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
His father forgave him because he loved him and he missed him. Before the son ever said a word the father was ready to celebrate.
This is the mystery of grace. God desires that none should perish. He longs for us to come home to him.
Any time the devil tells you that you have sinned too much, that you are too far gone, that there is no way that God could forgive you…it’s a lie, from the father of lies.
Every time the hammer hit that cold, hard iron nail into his flesh, Jesus said, “You are forgiven.”
5. You can do it, everyone else is.
This is unfortunately a trap that I have fallen into and I am sure that many Christians can say the same.
There is something that happens to us, psychologically, when we see that other people, or more specifically, other Christians are doing things that are biblically wrong, but culturally acceptable.
We start to doubt what we have been told by God’s Word and we believe the lie, because sinning is typically more enjoyable than not sinning. And so, we make justifications for sin.
It is the same thing that children do when they get into trouble, or when they get a bad grade on a test.
The child will say, “But everyone else…” Somehow, we convince ourselves that if many other people are doing something, even if it is wrong, it is acceptable.
Do Not Conform
Social psychologists have been studying this phenomenon of conformity for years.
The research is pretty clear that human beings are compelled to follow the crowd, even when it is clear that what they are doing is wrong.
Christians are not exempt from this phenomenon.
This is not a new tactic from Satan. He has been doing it since the Garden of Eden.
Remember how he coaxed Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, he said to her, “Did God really say?” Genesis 3:1.
Remember, one of his most successful weapons is to place doubt into our minds. It is our responsibility to tell the devil what God did say.
Don’t let the enemy convince you that you are immune from sin because the majority of people are committing the same sin.
Things That Are Not Easy For the Christian
It is not easy to be alone in the crowd.
It is not easy to be the only person not drinking at a party.
It is not easy to be the one who is saving themselves for marriage.
It is not easy to refrain from using profanity when everyone around you is doing it.
It is NOT easy to be a Christian, to walk the narrow road, to follow Christ rather than the crowd.
2 Corinthians 6:17 reminds us, “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean things; then I will welcome you.”
In a society where conformity is the norm, we are called to be non-conformists. We can be in the world and not of the world. Anything else is a lie from the devil.
We are called to be in the world but not of the world.The devil is a master liar and manipulator. He has been at this a long time.
Every time we believe one of the lies mentioned here, or the countless others that he throws our way, we only embolden him.
Do not let the enemy get the better of you. Prepare yourself, pray, know the Word of God, and be on alert. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7