Doing God’s Will

Doing Gods Will

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”” (Matthew 21:38-31)

Did you ever think about how parables Jesus used nearly two thousand years ago are as fresh and applicable today as they were then? The world has changed incredibly in the time since Jesus walked here but the issues that we deal with daily remain the same.

The chief priests and scribes of the day believed they were doing God’s will because they answered yes to his calling. They answered yes with their lips but not with their actions. This was the point Jesus was making to them. Simply saying yes isn’t following God’s will. Today we might say, “You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

Jesus made it very clear what his opinion of the chief priests and scribes was in this example. Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31) This must have been quite a shock to those listening to him. It was also this kind of honesty that helped convince the religious leaders of the time that Jesus must die. They could not allow their position and power to be threatened by this simple Galilean. Over and over Jesus used parables to point out the errors in their religious attitude and practice. Not once did they listen to him. Of course, there were a few of the Scribes and Pharisees who secretly believed in Jesus and took his message to heart but as a whole the religious establishment rejected and condemned him.

Today we see the same thing everywhere we look. We see those who pervert the faith that Jesus taught and twist it to their own use. There are the preachers who preach that God wants everyone to be wealthy. But many of them seem to believe that God wants them to be the first to receive the gift of wealth. Simply contribute to them and your life will improve. Actually it seems their life is the primary one they want improved.

I saw a TV evangelist who claimed that if his viewers would send him a thousand dollars he would virtually guarantee the blessings of God, to include tremendous wealth of course. Really — the kingdom of God is for sale at a thousand dollars a share? That seems quite different from a faith that was built on belief in God with little care for the day to day issues of life on earth. Do you think there might be some tax collectors and prostitutes entering heaven before this minister”

How successful are we in doing God’s will? First of course, we must have an idea of what God’s will is for us. How often do we stop and pray before making decisions? Do we seek to know what his will for us is or do we pray for him to approve our will? I have found that it’s very easy to convince myself of what God’s will is for me while not really turning the decision over to God. I’ve seen a ministry or a plan that pleases me and fits in with what I’d like to do for God. But it’s really my will that I am praying for. I find it much harder to open myself up to God and to honestly seek his will for me.

For several years I was convinced it was God’s will that I become a Deacon in the Catholic Church. I was certain that was what God wanted of me and I sought to fulfill God’s will. After three thwarted attempts at entering the Diaconate, I finally realized that I was pursuing my will, not God’s. While the path to God’s will may have hardships involved, when it is completely blocked that should be a clue that maybe He has a different path in mind.

Am I certain of what God’s will is for me now? No, not really. But I do know that he will guide me on the path he has for me. My responsibility and mission is to pray for understanding so that I may know what that path is and to make every effort to allow God to lead me on the chosen path.

There was a common bumper sticker around for several years. It said “God is my co-pilot.” One day I saw a sticker that said “If God is your co-pilot; you are in the wrong seat.” The more I thought about that the more I realized the truth in it. God isn’t supposed to be our co-pilot; he is supposed to be the pilot. We should be the co-pilot, willingly following the direction of God.

Understanding that simple fact has made a big change in the way I approach everything from daily life, to prayer, to spiritual study, and in the expectations of each. I used to pray for God to walk with me each day. But just like the bumper sticker, that is backwards. If God walks with me we won’t get very far along his chosen path for me. Why? I really don’t know the path to follow without His guidance. I’m just as likely to lead us astray as I am to discern his path. My prayer has changed to asking God to let me walk with him each day. He knows the way, my job is to follow his way.

In many, and perhaps most, cases it is our pride that gets in the way of looking to God for our path in life. Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have a hard time giving up control, even to God. From early childhood we are taught independence and self-reliance. We should “stand on our own two feet.” Don’t let anyone control you or your life. Live your own life.

From a purely human standpoint, perhaps these bits of advice are useful. Certainly we should not allow others to control our lives in such a way as to discourage us or deny our abilities. It is within those abilities that we all have that we are most likely to find God’s will for us. For our abilities are gifts from God and he has a plan for the use of those gifts.

Great musicians, artists, writers and thinkers have a gift. While not all of them will acknowledge the source of their gift, they will almost always recognize the gift. Technical ability in all of these areas and most others can be taught, but the truly great ones have something more. The source of that something more is God. I’ve often wondered how much greater some could have been had they realized that the gift was of God and had allowed God to use their talents to their full capacity. You see, I think when we shut God out of our lives, our ability to use God’s gifts are lessened. For every great composer or musician, how many others have wasted or lessened their gift by claiming it as their own.

Satan convinced Eve, and Eve convinced Adam that God’s plan for them was not in their best interest. They chose to turn from God and seek the wisdom and knowledge that the serpent promised them. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) Had they followed the path God had planned for them, how much pain and suffering would have been spared humanity. Of course, if it hadn’t been Adam and Eve, someone else would have fallen to the temptation. One thing we humans have always been good at is succumbing to temptation.

While it is difficult for us to give control to God and we must consciously seek the will of God in our lives, the rewards are incredible. The Holy Spirit will lead us if we will allow him. Jesus promised that he would be with us forever. The question is; will we be with him”

“… and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

Adam’s Sin

Adams Sin

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

In Romans, chapter 7, verse 15 Paul says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I take a lot of comfort from these words. If the great Saint and evangelist Paul had trouble doing the good things he wanted and avoiding sin, then maybe there’s hope for me as well. At least I know I’m not the only one who can’t seem to avoid sin even though I hate it.

Why do I have such a hard time with sin? I know that I don’t want to sin, but I do anyway. This is, at least in part, the result of original sin. As a result of Adam’s sin, sin has become part of our nature, it’s in our DNA. But exactly what was Adam’s sin. I had always considered Adam’s sin essentially a sin of disobedience. God had forbidden something and Adam and Eve had ignored the rule of God. But I don’t think that is whole story. If eating from the tree of knowledge, a sin of disobedience to God, were all of it, we should say that sin entered the world through Eve, since she was the first to commit that sin. But we don’t, we say sin entered the world through Adam. That would seem to indicate that Adam sinned in some way before Eve ate the fruit.

God had given Adam and Eve everything they could possibly want. They would never know pain or illness or death. All of their needs would have been met. There was only one, relatively minor exception; the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of course, we all know that the easiest way to pique our interest is to tell us we can’t have something. Immediately, it becomes the one thing we almost have to have. I can almost picture Adam and Eve standing in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by everything they needed, looking at the one tree they were forbidden and thinking, “Man, I bet that fruit tastes really good. If only we could have some of that, we would really be happy”. I can also picture Satan standing to the side watching and thinking that this was his chance to undo some of the good work that God had done.

As I’ve thought about this there is another thing that has puzzled me. Why did Satan choose to tempt Eve? Why not Adam? After all, Adam was supposed to be head of the family. He was the one who should have been the natural target if Satan was interested in trying to destroy man’s relationship with God. But instead, he went after Eve. Possibly because of Eve’s supposed weakness before Satan women ever since have been accused of being the weaker sex. But if we think about it, Adam was actually the weaker of the two. At least Eve had the courage to try to take a stand against Satan’s temptation. She tried to defend God’s rule concerning the tree. And finally, she did have the courage to make a decision, even though it was the wrong one. In Genesis, chapter 3 verse 6 it says “she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband and he ate it.” So, Adam was right there the whole time Eve was being tempted. But he never took any action to stop Eve. As the story is told in Genesis, he didn’t even try. And he didn’t do the one thing that should have been first on his mind. He didn’t call out for God’s help. That, I believe, was the original sin of Adam, a sin of pride and self-reliance. Had he asked, I’m certain that God would have taken care of Satan and his temptations and man would have continued to live in paradise. At least until someone else forgot to call on God when they should.

But still, why did Satan tempt Eve? I don’t think it was because he thought she was weak. I think he knew that Adam would just sit there and let it happen. I also think he knew that if he could convince Eve, Adam would follow. We have to admit that there are times when someone else makes decisions that we don’t always agree with but we go along to get along.

I also think that it’s sometimes easier to accomplish what you want if you don’t directly confront the one you are targeting. It’s a little like spreading rumor and gossip. It isn’t the one who is told the rumors that is really harmed, but the one who is the subject of the rumors. That way we can attack someone but we don’t have to do it face to face. We can be sure it will get back to them, but we don’t have to have the courage to face them ourselves. Maybe Satan knew that if he directly confronted Adam he would fight back, if only to prove to Eve that he could. But if he could just get Eve to give in, Adam would then give in to Eve. And what did Adam do? He just sat there and let it happen to Eve and then gave in himself. Not exactly a picture of faith and courage, our Adam.

Another interesting part of the story is that Satan didn’t technically lie to Eve when tempting her. In Genesis 3:3-5 Eve told Satan that God had said of the tree in the middle of the Garden “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Then Eve ate it, and she didn’t die; at least not in a physical sense. And they knew what was good and bad, since they then realized that they were naked and made clothes to cover themselves. So old Satan didn’t actually “lie” to them, he just didn’t tell the whole truth. They didn’t physically die, but they died spiritually. From that point on, they had broken their covenant with God, which is really what sin always does to us. It breaks our relationship with God and encourages us to sin even more.

Isn’t that the way Satan also tempts us many times. A direct assault might result in a fight that would bring God into the picture. But a little bit of misstating the truth will make us think and try to reason with Satan. Reason with Satan, now there’s a formula for disaster. Our only hope is in God and we are so arrogant that we think we can defeat Satan through our own efforts and intelligence.

So, now they have had a taste of the tree of knowledge and God shows up. To read Genesis it sounds like God didn’t know what was going on until he came upon Adam and Eve hiding from him wearing their fig leaves. Of course, he knew exactly what was going on. His prized creation, the one he had created “in His own likeness” and had given dominion over everything had just failed their first test. What happened next also shows the true weakness of Adam. When God finally corners him on what he had done, what was his response? He points directly at Eve and says “The woman whom You put here with me – she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” Adam doesn’t seem to be the bravest guy around does he? First he lets Satan tempt his wife, and then he blames her for giving him the fruit. And, oh by the way God, it’s Your fault too since You are the one who put the woman here with me. Like everything would have been OK if God had just given him another puppy dog instead of his soul mate. Don’t we do the same thing? When we get caught, don’t we usually look for an excuse for why we really aren’t responsible for what happened? Then there’s always the old standby; the devil made me do it. All that was really required to avoid the sin in the first place was to ask for God’s help.

So Adam and Eve, and the rest of humanity, paid the price for all eternity. However, don’t we still commit the same sin as Adam? If his sin was failing to call on God for the strength to resist temptation, don’t we do that every day? How many times have you heard a co-worker or maybe a friend say something that we know is sinful and against God? How many of those times have you confronted the person and pointed out their error? We usually just think it, or at best, say it under our breath. Or we make it even worse by not saying anything to the offender, but talking about them behind their back to someone else. We don’t want to offend anyone, we say, so we keep our mouths shut. Oh, and of course there’s that rule about judging others. Isn’t that convenient? After all, even the bible says “Judge not lest ye be judged”, right? On this point, we usually are pretty good at following the bible’s advice. We say to ourselves that we are doing the right thing because we are not judging. Do you think maybe Adam was thinking the same thing while the flesh of his flesh and the bone of his bone was being tempted into condemnation? Maybe he was sitting there thinking, “Well I could say something but, gee, I don’t want to raise a stink and start trouble. After all, God is the one who made these rules, let him enforce them.” Can you picture yourself allowing your wife to be convinced to do something that you know full well is harmful to her, and not try to stop her. That is exactly what Adam did. But we mustn’t judge others, right? I think that’s usually a lot of bull. I think we use that to make us feel better about not doing something we know we should. And if we speak up, are we really judging the person or the sin? We all talk about loving the sinner but hating the sin, but not speaking up doesn’t say much for hating the sin. And letting someone we care for go on sinning and not trying to help them isn’t showing much love for the sinner either.

Do we call on God’s help when we need it? Do we understand that he is there, waiting to help when we ask? I think most of us commit the sin of pride and self-reliance rather than turning to God for the strength to resist sin. We may have all become sinners because of Adam’s original sin, but we sure don’t seem to be doing much to stop repeating that same sin over and over. Can we overcome Satan and his temptation? Of course we can, God gave us the means and the ability to reject the enemy and all he does. He’s there, waiting for the call, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. All we need do is ask.

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

The Faith of a Centurion

The Faith Of A Centurion

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, begging him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Matthew 8:5-13)

Do we have faith in Jesus and his ability to heal us? Is our faith strong enough? The centurion in the scripture above had faith far beyond that shown by most of the Jews, including, at times, the apostles. He also had far more faith than many Christians today. The centurion exemplified the kind of faith all people should have in our Lord.

A Roman soldier and occupier, this man would have been considered an enemy of Jesus by most of Israel. The Romans were the oppressors of the Jews and had killed many in the occupation. At the insistence of the Sanhedrin, they would eventually kill Jesus as well. Yet this Roman soldier had faith in Jesus far beyond what was evident in those Jesus had come to save. Some would certainly question the fact that Jesus even responded to him. Some might even consider Jesus a traitor for helping a Roman. But Jesus seemed to be constantly doing the unexpected. He was searching for faith, not nationality. Simply being a son of Abraham wasn’t enough. Recognition and acceptance of the savior was required. Even though his mission was to the Jews, Jesus obviously knew that others would be included in his mission. In fact, those who accepted him would eventually be ostracized by the Jews and forced to separate from them in their worship. How sad that his own people refused to acknowledge him.

As a gentile, the centurion had no reason to expect that Jesus would answer his plea, but he had faith that Jesus had the power to do what he asked. Without question, he recognized the authority of Jesus. His statements showed his understanding of Jesus’ power and authority. It’s apparent that the centurion did not believe that he deserved the mercy of Christ. “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof”, he told Jesus. Interestingly, this same statement of humility is used at every Mass during communion. When offered the body and blood of Lord we respond, “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”.

It’s worth noting that his plea was not for himself or even for a family member. It was for a servant. Do we seek God’s help only when we or someone close to us are in need? Or do we, as the centurion, pray for those in need, regardless of their relation to us”

We should be very thankful for this healing performed for the Roman centurion. By responding to the needs of gentiles, Jesus demonstrated that his love and forgiveness was not limited to the Israelites, but would extend to the gentiles. There is another example of Jesus’ attention to gentiles in Matthew 15, verses 21-28. The Canaanite woman who approached Jesus asked for healing for her daughter who was possessed by demons. Jesus responded that it was not fair to take the children’s (Israelite’s) bread and throw it to the dogs (gentiles). But she persisted, finally saying, “Yet, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” At this Jesus answered, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Our hope of forgiveness and salvation is expressed in these healings. Had Jesus restricted his help to the Jews we, as gentiles, would have had no part in his salvation. Instead, out of love, God granted his blessings to all. Because of this love and acceptance, we have been grafted into the family tree of God. Jesus is our brother and Mary is our mother.

In today’s world expressions of faith are hard to come by outside the safety of the Mass or church services. It’s rare to see or hear anyone speak of faith and belief in Jesus in public venues. Those who do are mocked and ridiculed by many. Satan seems to have plenty of agents available to effectively silence all but the most innocuous forms of public faith expression. When was the last time you noticed someone saying grace before a meal in public? Have you seen anyone advising a friend or co-worker that prayer might be the answer to their problems? Do we, as Christians, live our faith or do we just bring it out on Sunday for show and tell.

Unless we are willing and even enthusiastic in our faith and recognition of Jesus, how can we expect him to recognize us when the time comes? When we stand before him in judgment which will we hear? “Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… .” or “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… ” (see Matthew 25:31-46)

One final thought about the centurion; could this be the same man who was present at the crucifixion of Jesus? Matthew and Luke relate the story of the healing of the centurion’s servant. Both Luke and Matthew, as well as Mark record the centurion’s statements at the crucifixion. Matthew and Mark record his statement that Jesus was “the son of God”. Luke records the statement as “This man was innocent, beyond doubt!” (see Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39, and Luke 23:47)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.



Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

What do you think of when you think of an evangelist? Many would think of Billy Graham, one of the most famous of modern day evangelists. Bishop Fulton Sheen might come to mind. Many might consider Gandhi an evangelist. There are many faithful, dedicated evangelists who have spent their lives furthering the Word of God.

Some might think “televangelists”; those who promise salvation and, in some cases, healing through their television ministry. I remember one who actually said he could heal a listener who simply placed their hands on the TV and prayed with him.

Then there were the tent evangelists. They traveled from place to place, setting up their tents and inviting all in the area to come hear the word of God preached. Neil Diamond sang a song about them; “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”. Their arrival was a major event in many towns during their day.

Is that what it takes to be an evangelist? A TV show or a stage or a tent? The apostles of Jesus had none of those things, yet they were evangelists. They spread the word of God far and wide. From their beginnings, the Christian faith has traveled throughout the world. For over 2000 years people have been listening to their words read on Sunday and have heard an untold number of sermons about them and their lives.

These were common men who were chosen by Jesus to build his church on earth. They had no special abilities or attributes other than a love and devotion to God and Jesus. Their only source of strength came in the form of the Holy Spirit sent to help and guide them in their mission. Jesus told them, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). With these words, Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and spread the good news throughout the world. To evangelize and to represent him to all they came in contact with.

When you look in the mirror do you see an evangelist? You should. That is what we are to be, evangelists. In the scripture passage above Jesus tasks the apostles to “make disciples” of all nations. We are to be disciples, not followers. Being a follower is a reactive form of Christianity; I will follow were he leads. That is certainly a worthy path to choose, but I think Jesus wants us to practice our faith proactively. We should not just follow, we should evangelize. We should live our lives so that others see Jesus in us.

How are we to evangelize today? In an environment that has taken on a decidedly anti-Christian attitude. It seems that today, Christians are the one, and perhaps only, group that can be slandered, derided, ridiculed and made fun of with no fear of retribution. We are told that we can’t have a manger scene at Christmas. In fact, in many places they are trying to replace “Christmas”, with “Winter Holiday”. I doubt those pushing this change realize that “holiday” is actually derived from “Holy Day”. Otherwise I’m sure they would come up with a different name. I’d like for someone to explain to me what is being celebrated during the “Winter Holiday” if it isn’t the birth of Christ. What are we celebrating? Are gifts still allowed? After all, gift giving at Christmas harkens back to the wise men and the gifts they brought the infant Jesus. So do we have to take away the gifts as well? If we have to strip the holiday of all meaning and sense, then why bother. If it’s just an excuse to take time off from work and school it becomes nothing more than a waste of time and money. It becomes the only holiday without a purpose.

There have been efforts to remove “In God We Trust” from our money. Some want to remove “one nation, under God” from the pledge of allegiance. We aren’t supposed to say prayers at ball games and high school graduations, even though the U.S. Congress opens every session with a prayer. Odd, isn’t it, that some of the same people who are trying to push God out of our lives and our country, have a prayer to begin work. Everywhere we turn there is someone who claims to be offended by any reference to God in any part of life.

If we are to be evangelists, we must follow St. Francis of Assisi’s teaching. He told his brothers, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” His message was to live life in a manner that reflects the Gospel in everything you do. A difficult task perhaps, but one of the only ways the average Christian can effectively be an evangelist in today’s world.

If someone asked the people you work with for a one word description of you, would that word be “Christian”? If it were a crime to be Christian, would those who know you call the police or would they not be aware of your Christianity? I once had a co-worker tell me that, as a Christian, it was my job to push him into Christianity. How sad to think that we must push someone to accept eternal salvation. I told him that I could not push him into Christianity; I could only push him away. My job, as he put it, is to live my life in such a way that he would, of his own choosing, want to be a Christian. I believe that to be true. I do not think anyone can convert a person to Christianity by pushing or force. Those who knock on doors trying to push their particular brand of Christianity on whoever happens to open the door have most likely turned as many people from Christ as to him. My intent here is not to offend anyone. I absolutely respect the faith and intentions of those door-to-door evangelists but I have serious doubts about their success.

Simply living our lives as witness to our faith is a very powerful means of Christian evangelization. Have you noticed when someone in a restaurant pauses to say grace before a meal, most of those who notice will quiet themselves as well? True, there are those who will make some derogatory comment but the majority of people will respect this form of evangelization.

The same applies at work. If you are one of those people who others tend to exclude from their sexual or bawdy humor, don’t feel left out, feel satisfied that your example has convinced them that you would not be interested in participating in that type of humor. You’ve done well in your evangelization.

For several years I have displayed a crucifix on my desk, even though it is technically against the rules of the company. I can’t recall a single time anyone expressed discomfort or offense at this display of my Christianity. Yet, officially, this was prohibited. I would like to think that most everyone who knew me was aware of my faith and believe most were. Though I was never put in the position to have to choose, I would like to believe that I would have refused to remove my crucifix even if it meant losing my job.

As Christians in the United States we have a responsibility to make sure everyone is aware that the first amendment to the U.S. constitution does not say “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That phrase is not followed with a period but with a comma. The phrase actually reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (emphasis mine). The concern being considered in the first clause was that of a national or state enforced religion in which citizens would be required to participate. The second clause of that statement, which is usually ignored, is to ensure we have the right to practice our religion without government interference.

If we are to be disciples of Jesus, rather than just followers, we must be aware of our rights to also be evangelists. We must strive to protect those rights from those who would misstate and misinterpret our constitution and our responsibility as Christians. We must also be willing to practice those rights, to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” St. Francis was a wise man. We must live our life as an evangelist in all that we do. Perhaps someone will notice and change their life for the better because of our example.

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) Unless we, as Christians, rise to the challenge of becoming evangelists we will have no part of encouraging the sinner to repent. We must be willing to reach out to others in faith and love. We must live our lives as a Christian example that others will want to emulate.

If we ask, God will help us to follow the words of Jesus to his disciples. He will give us the strength to spread the good news, the Gospel. He will give us the courage to confront those who would take this right and obligation from us. All we need to do is ask and be willing to walk the path he chooses for us.

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

Blind Bartimaeus

Blind Bartimaeus

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 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.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up, and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)

This is the story of Jesus healing a blind man. But is that all that it is? Doesn’t it also speak to us of spiritual blindness and the need for healing? Physical blindness in Jesus’ day was nearly a sentence of death. Except for the generosity of family, friends, or even strangers who gave alms to the blind, there was no way for a blind person to survive. There was no “Americans with Disabilities Act” or agencies to provide shelter and food. There was only begging and hoping that someone, anyone, would provide enough to enable the person to survive. While it isn’t specifically addressed in the Bible, I’m sure there were many blind people who starved to death because someone didn’t give them enough to eat and they had no way to get it on their own. Or maybe they fell and broke a bone and died of shock. Or perhaps they wandered in front of a Roman chariot. Any number of reasons could have resulted in their death. But the point is that they were totally dependent on the help of others.

This blind man created enough of a stir that Jesus heard him and called him over. It’s interesting that the people told Bartimaeus that Jesus was calling him and to “take heart” as if he had something to fear from Jesus. After all Bartimaeus was blind, not deaf. He had probably heard Jesus call for him. He obviously had the courage to call for Jesus to help him. Like many others that Jesus healed, Bartimaeus was a determined fellow. In verse 48 we read how people were trying to shut him up and quiet him from calling for Jesus. Don’t bother Jesus, they seemed to say, he has more important things to do. You’d think the people would learn that their definition of important rarely seemed to be the same as Jesus’ definition. How many times in the gospels do we see the people around Jesus trying to shield him from the bother of people trying to come to him for help and healing? They couldn’t seem to understand that Jesus’ definition of important included people coming to him for healing. Whether it was children, the blind and sick, the lepers, the possessed, or anyone else who sought his help out of faith, Jesus welcomed them all. And thank God for our sake he did. If he had not had the time or desire to help the least among his people, what hope would we have for his help? If he would refuse to help a person blind through no fault of their own, why would he ever take the time to help us, who are sick through our own fault and sinfulness”

Looking deeper into this Gospel story I see many parallels to us as sinners. If we look at Bartimaeus’ blindness can’t we also see our blindness to the will of God? Isn’t our vision seriously impaired by the world in which we live? So let’s put ourselves in the place of Bartimaeus for a minute. Here we are, blind in spirit and faith. We too will die without the help of others. Not of starvation or of injury, but of sin. We may not need to rely on alms but we certainly need to rely on the gifts of God! Our eternal survival depends on it. No matter how successful we are in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of God our success is defined differently. Maybe the fact that the friends and followers of Jesus couldn’t seem to figure out his priorities is telling us that we also don’t understand God’s priorities very well. We, like the scribes and Pharisees sometimes want to be legalistic and quote the law, all the while ignoring the intent. We just don’t get it sometimes. Bartimaeus, on the other hand figured it out. He knew that what he needed was Jesus, regardless of what the people were saying. And he kept seeking Jesus until he found him. Once he found him, he didn’t ask for money or status, he just asked to be able to see.

Do we approach Jesus in the same way? Do we simply ask for the ability to see His will for us? Or do we ask for things that we consider important? Do we try to set the priorities of God and then wonder why our prayers aren’t answered? If we are asking for things that aren’t consistent with the will of God, we won’t receive what we ask for. Not because God isn’t answering our prayer, but because he is; and the answer is No! On many occasions Jesus taught that whatever we ask in prayer will be given to us. But too many people want to believe that is a blanket approval of any prayer they offer. Make me rich… make me famous… give me what I want. It doesn’t work that way. In Matthew 21:22 Jesus tells his disciples “And whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” Again, in John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” Both of these examples indicate that we must be asking in faith and because we live in Christ and he lives in us. If our prayers aren’t offered in accordance with God’s will, we aren’t praying in the manner Jesus asks of us. Regardless of what we ask we should also pray that it be Gods’ will as well. If not, we aren’t praying in faith and we aren’t living in Christ and he isn’t living is us. We are simply asking for favors. Because our prayers are offered with the expectation that they be according to God’s will, we may not always recognize the answer to our prayers. When we ask for a healing, do we automatically look to a physical healing of the person in this world? Or do we recognize that the death of a pious person is also a healing? That person, though gone from us, is in the presence of their Lord and Savior. What greater healing can there be”

If we are truly calling to Jesus for healing, we too will hear his call to us and we will know we have nothing to fear from Him. It’s when we aren’t hearing his call that we need to worry about what we have to fear. That’s when we are subject to his judgment. And we need to remember that his judgment is righteous. There won’t be any wrongful conviction in His court. We will have only ourselves to blame. Again, we have to be sure that we are looking for God’s will in our life, not what we think God’s will is. Only when this life is over will we truly understand His will for us. Then we will realize that all of our prayers offered in true faith were answered, even though we may not have recognized it at the time.

The final line of the scripture from Mark above is of special significance. “And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:52) Bartimaeus was not only healed physically, but apparently spiritually as well, for he followed Jesus on the way. We too must follow Jesus on the way. The way he chooses for us, not our expectation of what we may think is the way. Otherwise we too will be as lost and blind as Bartimaeus was before he found Jesus.

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.