Devotional 50: He Put Them All Outside

Mark 5:36-43

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly.39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”

40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated,“Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

I love the story of redemption through the cross, because it means that Jesus is resurrected, and that means those who believe in Him will be resurrected too, spotless and blameless before the Father.

Personally, I think the Resurrection doesn’t get enough attention. We have the hope of eternal life, and life means we must be raised. The power of the grave is broken, to the point where even the sea will give up its dead.

We read in the Word that Jesus could work no miracles where there was no faith, yet we’re told if our faith is the size of mustard seed, it can provide the spark.

In some ways this story parallels that of Lazarus: Jesus was ministering elsewhere when the death occurs, and He visits once he’s done ministering to the crowd. What’s different is that the closer Jesus gets, the thinner the crowd, until only His inner circle and the child’s parents remain as witnesses, whereas the raising of Lazarus was more public.

The way Mark puts this is almost humorous in verse 40: And they ridiculed Him. But when He put them all outside…” The juxtaposition is jarring, and there was probably nothing humorous about it, but Christ does not surrender His authority any more than the Father shares His glory. They left.

Jesus had no time for the faithless clamoring of useless mourning.

How bold they were to mock Him, knowing who He was, ‘knowing’ the child was dead.

But we’re not unlike them at times, even professing faith. We ‘know’ things that Jesus doesn’t about ourselves, our lives, our plans, our families…we are not as quick to submit to His authority in all aspects of our lives.

We ‘know’ it’s too late to start over, or the marriage is ending, or the delinquent child is never going to get it together….

We must begin to do with our own faithless behaviors what Jesus did to the doubters at the door: Put them all outside, and say to the things of G-d, “I say to you, arise.”

And like the little girl our Lord raised, we must feed those things in us of G-d that provides us with perseverance, and shut out that which distract us, taunt us, mock and abuse us by assailing us with the words and deeds of long ago. Give yourself something to eat.

Put them all outside, brothers and sisters, and as Jesus told Jairus: “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Therefore I pray

Lord Jesus, help me to put outside all of the thoughts or feelings that are not tied into Your power to redeem me from sin.

Help me not to hear those who say “Don’t trouble the Teacher any longer,” so that I am not caught up in the noise of faithless fatalism.

Increase my peace in times of turmoil, my faith in the midst of trials, and my understanding in times of confusion.

Let me feel the presence of the Spirit as I enjoy the blessing of restoration.

Let me hold fast to the hope of being raised into eternal life in the Kingdom of G-d, to the cloud of witnesses after the Great Shout: ‘Come forth!’

I would not be among the faithless of the outer darkness who reject the Gospel because they ‘know’ there is no G-d. You say that in that time, as here, there will be weeping, for the killing of the soul is true death, and not merely sleep.

I would not be snatched from Your hand, even when I stray, so I ask Your forgiveness when I stood silent among those who ridiculed You.

I ask these things in faith, believing I’ve received, and for all my Brothers and Sisters who believe in You across the nations of the world.


Devotional 45: Made to Stumble

Mark 14:27-31  Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night,[a] for it is written:

‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered.’[b]

28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.

30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

And they all said likewise.


Let me set up a scenario for you:

You’re in a dark, cold cell; hungry, tired, and thirsty.

Heavy chains and manacles are on your wrists and ankles.

Vermin nip, flies beset, and you’re shivering.

The cell door opens, and in come the guards again; you see they mean business, again.

Heavy blows that hold nothing back rack your face and body, and once again, the long, cold, shiny blade is laid against your throat, and the spit lands on your cheek as they pull your head up by your hair and use the blade to life you on your toes, and it breaks the skin as you feel your neck start to bleed.

“Renounce Jesus,” they say, and you open your mouth….


The goal is to be like Christ, but as I’ve said before, we’re more like Peter.

Our faith is not entirely based on what we believe of Christ, but also what we believe of ourselves.

How steadfast and faithful we are in our own minds! How unwavering and brave!

When storms come, the Christ image in our minds sets our faces like flint, but on the inside we’ve taken our eyes off Him, and we don’t dare say, “Lord, save me!” because of a moment of fear and doubt, or in the midst of a trial.

We are told over and over again that the Apostles not only didn’t understand, but ultimately they were afraid to question Him on what He meant. (Mark 9:30-32)

In our weakness, we try to repair the torn veil or substitute it by statements of boldness: “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”

And then an unbeliever exposes us to the harsh light of our tormentors, and we curse, then hide and weep.

I am thankful that He has compassion, and that He knows me better than myself.

We’re only fooling ourselves, and I am thankful that He forgives a broken heart and contrite spirit.

He later asked Peter three times if he loved Him, one brick of restoration for each one Peter broke apart with his denial.

Do we love Him enough to die, figuratively and literally, that He might not be ashamed of us, deny us to the Father, and command our departure to the outer darkness? Paul admonishes us to take heed when we think we stand, lest we fall.

Let us build each other up in faith, and with joyful hearts embrace our fates like ‘the others’ in Hebrews who received no miraculous rescue from persecution and death because the world ‘was not worthy of them.’

Peter’s bitter tears finally humbled him, but the Lord uses that in which we are gifted to His glory, for in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit touched the hearts of three-thousand because of Peter’s boldness, and he never looked backed (except when he lapsed in front of Paul. Big mistake…)

Be encouraged, brothers and sisters; He is the author and finisher of our faith.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

If I scatter, let my bitter weeping make the ground good soil and fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit to speak light to darkness, love to hate, but mostly truth to power. Let me be compassionate but uncompromising, bold but not self-righteous, fearless with faith and holding onto Your promises of a prepared place.

And let me always speak, as You did, in love. Let my words be few as they point to Our Father, that He get all the glory, honor and praise.

Thank You for looking upon this unworthy servant, and restoring him to be reconciled.

In Your Name, I ask it.


Devotional 44: He Sighed in His spirit…

The Pharisees Seek a Sign

11 Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”

A sign seemed a small thing to ask, for Jesus was unlike other preachers, teachers, rabbis and prophets of His time: He had no equal.  Indeed, how could He?

He astonished the crowds with His teaching, He was confident in His authority to perform miracles, He had a retinue of unlearned yet passionate men, and a women’s ministry that was unheard of in His time.

He spoke to Samaritans, forgave the sins of the faithless, and called out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, challenging their power over the people and their control of political events in Israel.

All the while He knew that eventually He would have to die at their hands in order to save them all.

They questioned His authority relentlessly, tried to trap Him repeatedly, and he constantly left them in a state of embarrassed confusion and wrath that exposed their corrupt hearts.

They called Him out as a blasphemous youth and rebellious upstart, and sought to stone him more than once.

He could’ve ended it with a sign.

Why not gather them all together on the mountain, where there could be no doubt, in full view of Heaven and earth, before all the people? Why not give them a sign that You are truly sent from the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?  They’d believe You then, Jesus. They’d leave You alone then.

Jesus knew what was in a man, and refused them. He was not a street magician performing to please crowds. If they were jealous and hated Him for the ministry He was doing without a sign, how much more jealous and hateful would they be if they saw the Father seal Him before their eyes as the Messiah?

The virgin birth they knew about was not enough.

The miracles He performed in front of them were not enough.

He took what they knew and told them it all pointed to Himself, and it was not enough.

Their stubborn faithlessness  wearied Him so, he sighed deep in His own spirit.

How many of us, in our moments of unbelief, can make that claim?

Is He enough for us, O we of little faith? Do we truly believe, professing with lips and no honor in our hearts? Do we sacrifice instead of obey? Do we pray on the night’s watch?  Do we shout what He’s whispered? Do we forgive as He did, and love as He loves?

What are the signs?

Where are the signs?

Therefore I pray:

King Jesus, 

I grow weary of doing good in an ungrateful world. I grow fearful of what people will think and say if I profess You, though I don’t deny You in my heart. I have no boldness, and am quiet when I should shout. I withdraw from the kinds of crowds You went into.

I don’t believe You will give me what to say when I open my mouth to preach the Gospel.

I feel as though I have no authority at all to speak of You as I act on my own sinful desires.

And I ask for signs: wet fleece, wet grass, a star in the heavens, a prophetic word, a verse in the Word, a reversal of bad fortune…

If I just had those, Lord, I’d be so much more encouraged to speak of Your goodness, Your mercy, Your grace, and yes, Your judgment. 

And You say to me, “No sign shall be given.”

Then increase my faith to continue. Help my unbelief. Feed this little dog the scraps from Your table. Let me take a drink from the well of Living Water. Let me eat of the Bread of the Life. Let me set stones on the path, and find wells in the desert. Let me see Your glory fill the temple of my heart, for even King David said, “I am poor and needy.” 

I would not have my spirit fail, nor be broken.

If you’re trusting me with Your silence, Lord, then I trust Your hand works where I can’t see, preparing my place, and guiding me along the path.

I thank You, King Jesus, for all that You’ve done, and all that You will do to complete my story as the Author and Finisher of the work You started. Write Your sign on my life, Lord, and set me on a hill so that men will see, and glorify G-d.


Devotional 25: He is Out of His Mind

Mark 3:20-21 Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”

How can it be that the family of the Messiah missed the fact that He was among them?

How could it be that His mother, who pondered the sayings of Simeon, Anna, and the Wise Men in her heart on the things concerning her Son, go after Him with His siblings, believing Him to be mentally unsound?

He is unlike anything we’ve ever known, and yet He is the most accessible to the most lowly man.

“If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” You’ve seen the heart of G-d toward mankind, that we be reconciled to Him through the spilled Blood of the Son, and come to Him through the risen spotlessness and glory of His resurrection, fastened in body, mind, and spirit to Him for eternity, as He was fastened to the cross for our mortality.

The cares of the day press down on us, however, and thoughts of Him fade as we go through the traffic and mayhem of daily life, suffering slings and arrows that assault our psyche when we would be holy, when our minds are in silent prayer, when we take a moment to sigh our thanks in an empty room, and request strength for the remainder of what lies ahead.

There are those who think us stupid to proclaim Him our Lord and Savior on the basis of faith alone, believing in the Promise of One long departed, yet alive and glorified. “The foolishness of the cross,” as the Apostle Paul says. Are we willing to be out of our worldly minds, and have them stayed on the One who came to save, or do we risk denial on earth to please man, and be cast into the outer darkness?

“I would that you were hot or cold.” Indeed, He’ll be more involved with you when you’re out of the will of God, then He will if you walk between earthly and heavenly realms of influence. He can convert sinners through the Spirit, but a double-minded person is wind-tossed, rudderless, without roots, and unstable.

Feed the spirit-man, for you cannot save the fleshly one; he is out of his mind.

That’s why He came to us.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, there are times I too, thought this message foolish, its standards untenable, its sacrifice of self too great a price to pay, and I turned, and backslid, and became a profane vessel unfit for service, unwashed within.

There are times I said that if your love is steadfast and eternal, I could indulge my fleshly desires, and it would be all right in the end.

There are times I said that the problem was with You, and not within me.

I, like Your family, like Mary herself, forgot who You were, and where You came from, and why. I was bent on backsliding, because it felt good, and eased my loneliness, and assuaged my pain in ways that I appealed to You to do, but You did not, for reasons I couldn’t understand.

So I went away and looked on the outer darkness waiting to receive me, and said it was good, and it was well with my soul.

Lord, forgive me. 

It’s I who am foolish, not the message of the cross.

It is my standards that are untenable, for they lead me to perdition.

It is the sacrifice of filthy rags of self- righteousness that is too great a price to pay.

And looking on the outer darkness, I am a blind sheep, unconcerned with Your worry as You leave the ninety-nine to come rescue a fool and bring him home, in love and grace and mercy.

Help me always to hear your voice when the void whispers prettily, and smells of jasmine and honey and clean earth, but holds the horrors of eternal separation from Your glory in unquenchable, agonizing fire that tortures my damned soul with no respite, and mocks the hope I once had as it burns the tears of sorrow away, and singes the cries of my hopeless, helpless heart on my tongue, and burns the praise from my throat.

Goad me along the narrow road to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I will not kick against them.




Devotional 24: Cry Out All the More

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.

Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.


Bartimaeus had reached a point of weariness with his affliction, blindness, so when Jesus was near, he called to Him, his voice carrying above the excited din of the crowd as they saw Jesus approaching.

In his cry, Bartimaeus gives the designation of recognition of Jesus as the Messiah as ” Son of David,” and pleads for mercy.

Why mercy? Isn’t that something granted to the sinful? How would a blind man, begging alms, be sinful? We can only guess that Bartimaeus cursed his lot in life, and blamed God, and was angry at being treated as human refuse for depending on the patronizing, pitying kindness of strangers.

In his state, the people nearest him tell him to be quiet; he is a poor, blind beggar, and Jesus is a King, so they marked him as unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence by those who probably either ignored him everyday, or mocked him as they gave of their surplus.

Continuing to place his faith in Jesus, obeying the prompting of the Spirit within him, he cried out all the more. In his weariness with his affliction, he saw an opportunity to be free of it, and in his acknowledging of Jesus as Messiah, the faith in his cry for mercy caused Jesus to stop, and command Bartimaeus to approach.

The fickle crowd who at first told him to shut up, now tells him to cheer up, and to rise and go forward. Though none offer to help him stand, Jesus’ command also removes the human barrier of doubt, so neither will they hinder his way.

As Matthew left all, and Lazarus was loosed from his burial shroud, and the bedridden man lowered through the ceiling rose to carry his bed outside to throw it away, Bartimaeus throws aside the garment that marked him as an afflicted pauper, worthy of little more than pitied contempt and whispered judgement as to the nature of his sins, and stands before Jesus.

He answers Jesus’ question (though He knew what the man wanted; he wanted him to say it, to proclaim that he wished to be healed, and free), and says he wants to receive his sight.

Immediately, with no touching from Jesus, with no mud-making, with nothing more than the power of His Word, Jesus heals him through his conduit of faith, and tells him so:

“Go your way, your faith has made you well.”

We read that Bartimaeus did not go his way, but followed Jesus down the road, no doubt giving thanks and praise and glory to the Father.


Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, You admonish us to ask, seek and knock. These are not only acts of faith, but of persistence, of effort with a goal in mind of building our faith to have our prayer answered.

Help me to understand, Lord, that as I persist in my petitions to You they will not be granted without these two things:

  1. faith in You, and the promise that You said all things are possible through the Father,

2. being in Your presence, for You said apart from You I can do nothing, nor can You work in me if I possess a sullied spirit and a skeptical mind.

Help me to listen to the still, small voice when the devil’s hordes are shouting for me to be quiet, to sit down, to trouble the Master no longer, for my prayers are stillborn in my mouth.

I thank You that in Your presence, we leave the garments of our afflictions in the dirt, no longer begging for strangers’ alms, but sitting at the King’s table, partaking of the bounty of Your mercy on us, and the goodness of your grace towards us.

Let me cry out to You all the more, Son of David, that You may say to me:

“Your faith has made you well.”





Devotional 19: Help My Unbelief

Mark 9: 17-24

17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.

21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”

And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

A father’s faith in the works of Jesus had suffered a blow from the inability of the disciples to cast out a violent, life-threatening demon from his son. The demon threw the boy into fire and water, the father said, in order to destroy him.

How wearying it must have been for the father to be ever-vigilant in order to save his son’s life, how frightening to see that visage take over an innocent face, subjecting it to brief glimpses of hell’s horrors! But to his credit, he didn’t give up. We’re not told if he traveled a great distance to get to Jesus, but I believe he would have done anything to save his son’s life, as any good parent would.

Also to his credit, when the disciples couldn’t cast it out, though his hopes were initially dashed, he sought out the source of holy Power, and went to see Jesus.

When the man tells Jesus that his disciples failed, Jesus initially rebukes them (again, though indirectly) for their lack of faith, because now, as a result, this man has come to him full of hope, but also doubt.

As they bring the boy to Him, the demon does obeisance, albeit violently, and throws the boy’s body to the ground because even demons are unable to stand in the presence of the Lord.

After a brief Q & A with Jesus, the father, not surprisingly, qualifies his request with, “But if You can do anything…” This is the first time Jesus’ ability to do anything is called into question. Normally, when we read “if” statements in Scripture, it goes more like this: “Lord, if you are willing…”

But Jesus, having compassion, puts forth a condition of his own: “If you can believe…”

Faith is the conduit to answered prayer, and without it being in the person making the request, Jesus will not override doubt. Not cannot override doubt, but will not. This is why we are admonished to ask in prayer, believing we have already received.

The father now realizes what he’s done, and cries out, offering his remnant of faith for Jesus to take and increase. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

And Jesus casts out the demon with a caveat of his own. “Enter him no more!” for the father’s doubt has left his son vulnerable to repossession, as Jesus said. In Luke 11:24-26 we read: 

24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

And the gathering crowd now adds their voices of doubt to the scene, believing Jesus has killed the boy by delivering him:

26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Is it any wonder Jesus cried out against the faithless generation He worked among? And as much as we would like to believe in our own piety, we too, even now, have our moments; but even faith the size of a mustard seed has to be nurtured.

Therefore I pray:

Lord, You say all things are possible to those who believe, but my faith is as a mustard seed, and the conditions surround its soil are not conducive to its growth: my senses, my circumstances, my finances, my health, my family, and other worldly cares cause it to struggle to break its small and fragile shell, and it suffers greatly, weakening from stagnation every day.

I would not have it die, Lord, so help my unbelief, for you cannot work where there is doubt.

Cast out that demon in me that wants to please man, and to do all that you say makes a man unclean from the inside out, and his soul before God impure and unworthy to enter the Kingdom. I would not be a whited sepulcher.

Bless, purify, sanctify, and forgive this unworthy servant who listens to hell’s whispering: “Did G-d really say…?”

Deliver me, O Lord, from myself: my way, my strength, my will, my thoughts not taken captive, for they are flying demons looking for an empty house.

Lord Jesus, I pray that You command them to enter me no more, that may stand guiltless before Your throne, and hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.