It’s Always Right to Do the Right Thing

(Luke 13:10-17)

How many times have you seen or heard of people who overlook and pass by someone who is suffering? Think about the Good Samaritan and the first two, who were religious people, and passed the injured man on the other side of the road. Then there are times when people are hurt, injured, robbed or whatever and people just turn a blind eye. Sure there is a need for wisdom so you are not caught up in things or hurt yourself, but you could call the cops! Here is an example of religious leaders using the opportunity to helplaw to back up their decision to do nothing.

Continue reading “It’s Always Right to Do the Right Thing”

Touch the Hem of His Garment

(Luke 8:40-48)

This is a much discussed and well known scripture where we see the woman suffering a flow of blood healed by touching the hem of His garment. I too have discussed this section of scripture previously when covering it in Matthew and Mark (Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43). You can check these out in the links at the end of this post.

So in this discussion I would like to cover something else from this section that I have not previously discussed.

Healing by the Holy Spirit

The healing power that Jesus had came not from himself but through the Holy Spirit within him. Now what we see here is that when the woman touched the hem of Jesus garment, healing power went forth from Jesus without his foreknowledge and the woman was healed.

It is clear from this that even though Jesus was unaware of what was going on, the Holy Spirit was not. The Holy Spirit saw and recognised that this woman had been suffering many years and that she had faith to be made well. Thus when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, the Holy Spirit responded and healed her.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is given to us when we ask for it by God. Some of the work of the Holy Spirit is to teach, counsel, guide and transform us into the image of the Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit does not take us over though. We are told that we, “…did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:15) The Holy Spirit will not do his work by dragging us kicking and screaming along the way.

But then the Holy Spirit also leads and protects us when we are unaware of danger, especially when being attacked by Satanic forces. The Spirit will nudge us with scripture and remind us of what is right so that we can have the victory. In the same way the Holy Spirit stepped in with this sick woman and gave her the healing she needed, on the basis of her faith as Jesus stated afterwards.

Using the Power of the Holy Spirit

It is up to us to make the first step and the Holy Spirit then provides the power to take the step and move us in the direction we have chosen, when it is in the will of God.

The Spirit also helps us when we are weak, for the Bible tells us, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) When we are weak then the Holy Spirit will and can intercede to God on our behalf. The Spirit does this in accordance with the will of God for our benefit.

By using this power and praying in the Spirit we can overcome. We can walk in the Spirit and thus overcome the passions and desires of the flesh that would lead us astray. There is much I can say about this, but time and space do not permit. If you would like to know more about walking in the Spirit, I urge you to look at the Walking In The Spirit tag for other posts, or you can take my “Nine Steps to Christianity eCourse in the Resources Library menu item above. In addition you may want to look at purchasing my eBook that can also be found in the Resources Library titled the Six Foundation Teachings of Christianity.

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Jesus Heals the Demoniac

(Luke 8:26-39)

Jesus came to the land or region of the Gerasenes and met a man possessed with demons. When Jesus cast the demons out he asked their name and they responded saying, “Legion; for many demons had entered him.” (Verse 30)

The Legion of Demons

casting out the legionThe use of this name is interesting for it represents a number. A legion of the Roman army consisted of 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers plus usually and equivalent number of support personnel. So in total a legion could have been as many as 12,000 people sent to wage a war.

Now when this demon in the man of the Gerasenes called itself “Legion,” it was saying there were possibly up to 12,000 demons possessing this man. Is it any wonder he was mad and driven to all kinds of self-destruction by the demon.

The Power of Jesus

But this demon for all of its numbers and power over the man had no power when Jesus approached. The demon stood in fear of the Lord, recognising that he was the Son of the Most High God. When Jesus told the demon to depart from the man, it had to obey.

The demon however sought a concession, to be allowed to enter a herd of swine feeding in that area. When Jesus gave it leave to do so, the herd fled and ran down into the sea and were drowned, so the demons did not get their way anyway. What we learn from this too is that it is possible for an animal to be possessed by demons as well as people.

Jesus has authority over all sickness, illness and the spiritual realm as well. There is nothing over which he does not have power and authority with the one exception of the Father. And all of this power and authority can be brought to bear on our problems and issues when we ask for his help.

But then consider the people of the district surrounding the region of the Gerasenes. After the swine rushed to their death, the herdsmen fled to the nearby towns and told the story of what happened. The people came out to see and found the demoniac seated at the feet of Jesus, healed, fully clothed and in his right mind. The people were seized with fear at what had happened and they pleaded with the Lord to leave them.

Jesus did not argue or try to preach and teach the people. And we can learn from this too. When asked to leave, just do it. Don’t argue or complain, don’t put your foot in the door like some pushy salesperson, just take your leave as requested. What we need to remember is when in that situation it is the Lord who is in charge and he will work the way he wants to.

Jesus Leaves a Witness

We see in this example too that his approach was different to other situations where he healed the sick or demon possessed. In most cases he told the person not to tell anyone but keep it to themself how they had been healed. But in this case, the demoniac wanted to come with Jesus after being healed, but Jesus refused telling him to, “”Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Verse 39) Then we see the demoniac go back into the city proclaiming all that Jesus had done for him.

So we see that even though the people asked the Lord to leave them and he did as they wished, Jesus still left a witness for the people so that the message of the good news of the gospel would be proclaimed. And this man was a credible witness for the people all knew him and the bondage he had been in to the possession of the demons. Who better to preach freedom than one who had been so badly bound and enslaved.

So we should take heart that even when we are rejected it does not mean the Lord’s work will stall. Jesus will have his minister there to speak to the people, and it will be the best person for the job to get the message of the gospel through to those he is calling. As he said elsewhere, “…where I am, there shall my servant be also…” (John 12:26) So take heart if you have been speaking to someone and it felt like you have been wasting your words. The Lord will have his servant speak to the person in the right place at the right time, and it may not necessarily be you or me. You may have sown a seed but it may require another to build on that beginning and bring the seed to fruit.

(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com/)

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Is it Lawful to do Good or Harm on a Sabbath?

(Luke 6:6-11)

You would think that the answer to the question posed by the title of this post is a no-brainer. Consider the Pharisees and scribes who were always following Jesus and who knew the law and try to understand their position. They saw themselves as the keepers of the law and the guardians of it to ensure it was followed to the letter. They would go to the most extreme lengths to keep the most minute precepts of the law so as to maintain what they perceived to be right.

But they failed. Miserably! How many times did Jesus call them to account for their failures in relation to the truth of the law? Countless times. And why did they fail so miserably all of the time? Because they missed the point of the law. They missed the requirements of justice, mercy and faith that were embodied in the law and used it instead as a big stick to beat the people into submission, and this scripture is a classic example of how they failed.

healing the withered handWhile Jesus was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath day, a man came to him with a withered hand. Now let’s think what the Pharisees could or should have thought about this scenario. They could think, “Isn’t it fantastic that this man is here today for Jesus can heal him and fix his hand and all will give glory to God.” But instead they were waiting to see if Jesus would heal him so that they could have something to accuse him with! Their thoughts might have been, “If Jesus heals this guy, we’ve got him! You aren’t allowed to work on the Sabbath and healing is work so we dare you to do it and then we’ll have you on a plate!”

But Jesus knew what treachery they were up to and he planned to show their malice for what it was. He called the man over and then said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” (Verse 9) Now how were the scribes and Pharisees going to answer that? How petty would they look if they said, “Well, yes you should do good…but the law says you can’t work on the Sabbath so you should wait until tomorrow.” What if the man was at the point of death and couldn’t wait till tomorrow? In another version of this event it says Jesus looked around at them all in anger for their hardness of heart. (Mark 3:5) And so he should. Where was the compassion of these men? Where was the mercy, love, justice and the desire for what is right to be done?

Jesus even showed them that they too broke the Sabbath on occasions so that the law could be kept. He showed in John 7:22-24 that they would circumcise a child on the Sabbath to keep the requirements of the law of circumcision, and that too is “working on the Sabbath.” They do not tell the parents of the child to come back the next day, because the requirement of the law of circumcision is it was to be done on the eighth day. And there was a health reason for this that I am certain they were unaware of, because it has been shown that Vitamin K levels, which assist with blood clotting, are at their highest levels on the eighth day. (Note: I don’t particularly agree with circumcision as it is not necessary under the New Covenant).

The Lord finishes this discussion in John 7:22-24 saying, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” And this is the key to the whole question of the Sabbath. Judge with right judgement. What is the right thing to do? Is it right to leave someone suffering to keep the Sabbath? Jesus had already made the point that, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27) So if the Sabbath is made for man, is it not right that a man should be freed from bondage to infirmity on a Sabbath as much as on any other day? While keeping the Sabbath may have had the appearance of religion, if it was going to cause or prolong suffering for someone, how is that loving your neighbour as yourself? If it were the reverse and the Pharisees had the withered hand, would they have felt the same way when the resolution to their infirmity in Jesus Christ stood before them on the Sabbath?

I have mentioned many times that the way the Lord sees and perceives things is much different to the way that man does. And here he is teaching us to learn to think as God thinks. Don’t judge by appearances but get to the heart of the matter to find out what is the good, right, true and just path to take. What is the path that leads to righteousness and shows the love of God rather than the appearances of it? Find that path and follow it.

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Eating With Sinners

(Luke 5:27-32)

Jesus often went in to the houses of those the Pharisees considered sinners, especially tax collectors. The Pharisees grumbled as to why Jesus was eating with sinners. In this section of the gospel of Luke we see him again entering into the house of a tax collector and eating with sinners, and there is a good message in these words we can use today.

caduceus-medical-symbolThe Pharisees were elitest. They were proud and arrogant and looked down upon those whom they felt they were better than. They thought they were the people of God, not realising they were blind and full of hypocrisy. They also lacked insight for they did not understand the reason why Jesus came, which he pointed out in this section of scripture.

The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled because he was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus then replied to them saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Verse 31 ) Now there are a couple of things we can take from this. First, he was stating what is plain and obvious. You don’t go to a doctor unless you are sick. An interesting comment considering Jesus could heal any disease and raise the dead by the power of God as well. There are some today who preach “divine health” based on faith. They say that if your faith is strong you should never be ill. but clearly Jesus showed in this statement that a sick person needs a doctor. He did not promote “divine health” but rather the miraculous healings were given to confirm and testify to the message of the gospel.

We know there were many instances of people in the bible who were ill and did not receive divine healing including Paul and Epaphras. Was their faith lacking because they did not have “divine health?” Absolutely not! The message of divine health is incorrect and what it does is to promote condemnation in people who accept this teaching for they believe they are lacking in faith if they happen to fall ill. What absolute nonsense. In this scripture Jesus was showing that if you get sick, go to the doctor for the doctor is an authority and all the authorities are the servants of God to do his will as Paul showed in Romans 13:1 saying, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Now Jesus was not talking about physical health only in this statement but also spiritual health. All of mankind has been born under the power of sin and are sinners. Thus to be healed from the “disease” of sin requires a special kind of physician. They need the healing power that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, not for a physical sickness, but for the spiritual sickness of sin. This is what Jesus was referring to in this section. He is the physician who came to heal the sick, that is those sick with sin. And that is why he goes on in verse 32 to say, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

So if he came to call the sinners to repentance, how could he do so if he only hung out with the Pharisees and scribes who believed they were already righteous? If Jesus spent his time with the righteous only (assuming there were any who could be considered righteous), when and where would the sinners be able to hear the message of salvation from sin in the gospel? Taking a modern analogy, if you are selling a product you need to target the market you want to sell that product to. That is what Jesus was doing…sort of. He had a “product” (the Gospel of salvation) and his “target market” were sinners. So to “sell” his product he had to go to where the target market was, which meant he had to eat and drink with the sinners so he could “advertise and market” his message.

The Pharisees and scribes just didn’t get it.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ provided by Dominik Gwarek)

Rise and Walk

(Luke 5:17-26)

When Jesus was healing the paralytic let down through the roof he asked the Pharisees which was easier; to say “Rise and walk” or to say, “You sins are forgiven.” This is an interesting question and shows again both the power of God and how Jesus views the world in a different way to the way that man does.

rise and walk your sins are forgivenIf we look at things from a human perspective, if a paralytic was before us we would think it impossible to say rise and walk. From a human perspective no man could just say the words “Rise and walk” and expect the paralytic to stand up and wander off. For the people in this world such a thing is not possible for if they could do this there would be no paralytics.

But to say to someone your sins are forgiven is certainly much easier from a human perspective. If someone has committed a sin against you personally, you have the ability and the authority to forgive that person of the sin they did against you and to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” You may not and cannot forgive the sins they commit against others, but where you are involved then it is in your power to forgive sins. This is not the way that the Pharisees saw things of course for they said that Jesus was blaspheming by saying “Your sins are forgiven,” for they believe that only God can forgive sins. And while it is true that only God can take away sins, man does have the ability to forgive sins when those sins are committed against you. Jesus showed us this in the Lord’s prayer and expanded on this in Matthew 6:14-15 saying, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So it is essential that we forgive sins against us so that we can receive the forgiveness from God. Quite a different approach to what the Pharisees were saying. And of course Jesus IS God so he can forgive and take away all sin anyway, which is what he showed in the scriptures under review here.

So when we look at both these matters from a human perspective, a man might consider there is some possibility to forgive sin where they are the wronged person, but there is no way that any man can say to a paralytic, “Rise and walk.”

But Jesus sees things differently than man does. For Jesus the ability to say to a person “Rise and walk” is no issue at all. He can call upon the power of God who made man in the first place and fix the problems causing paralysis with no effort at all. In the same way he can also not only forgive sins, but take them away and blot them out completely.

But which of these is more important, to say “Raise and walk” or to say, “Your sins are forgiven?” Again the human perspective would be to have the man regain the ability to walk. But in Jesus eyes that is the less important aspect for it is the forgiveness of sin that is important. To be maimed, lame or blind is of no significance at all when compared to being sin free. It is whether a person is a sinner or sin free that will determine whether they can enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus made this point saying in Matthew 18:7-9,

7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

So whether a person is a paralytic or maimed or lame or blind or anything else of a physical nature is unimportant. It is more important to be set free from sin for this is how you shall receive entry into eternal life in the kingdom of God. And this is what Jesus was showing to the paralytic as well as the people. It is better to be set free from your sin for that has the greater reward, than to have anything of this world including the ability to walk.

But also in this scripture we see Jesus proving his point to the Pharisees and the people. They all believed it was impossible for a paralytic to rise and walk, but Jesus said to them, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” –he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” (Verse 24 ) By saying this he was saying in effect that because he COULD say to the man to be healed and to rise and walk, it was the proof that he also had the power and authority to take away sins, which was far better and more important. It was proof also that he was not blaspheming but was doing the will and the work of God.

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Cleansing the Leper

(Luke 5:12-16)

It is important for us to understand the will of the Lord and to believe in it. The power of the will of God is mighty indeed and it is to our benefit when we know his will, understand it and believe. Here in these few scriptures we see a prime example of the Lord’s will in action.

healing the leperA man suffering with leprosy came to him seeking to be healed. However his words were interesting for he said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (Verse 12) This man recognised the power of God at work in and through Jesus. He recognised that it was by the will of God the Jesus did the mighty works he did. And most importantly, he believed in that power of God.

Jesus responded in kind understanding what the man said and the recognition that he had given to God. So Jesus said to the man, “I will; be clean.” (Verse 13) And the man was healed of this most debilitating disease. He received this healing because he had faith to be healed. But he also knew it would occur only by the will of God. And Jesus rewarded this man’s faith and told him that his healing and cleansing of this disease was according to and by the will of God.

But Jesus insisted the man go through the Jewish purification rites so that the law would be fulfilled. He told the man to go to the priest and show himself and make the required offerings under the law as a proof to the people of the healing he had received from God and to be obedient to the word of God. Jesus was not seeking glory for himself but insisted that all glory go to God and that the correct protocols be followed to ensure that the glory went to God.

Today we are in some ways like this man suffering leprosy. Today mankind is suffering all kinds of sickness from the debilitating effects of sin in their life. But like this man when we come to Jesus we make this same appeal to him saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

How are we made clean and cleansed from our sins today? By the power of the New Covenant through the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. Now a “Covenant” is a “will” and it is the same Greek word translated in both cases. So it is by the will of God, the New Covenant, that we are made clean when we come to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness through repentance. When we are baptised into Christ Jesus we are made clean in Jesus, not as a removal of dirt from the body like a bath, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ as Peter wrote. (1 Peter 3:21) When we come to Jesus in baptism through faith we are appealing to God to cleanse our spirits and our conscience from the sickness of sin. And God in his grace and mercy says to us as Jesus said to the leper, “I will; be clean.”

Praise be to God for this wondrous gift of healing. Not just the physical healing in our bodies, but the ability to cleanse to the depths of our soul and remove all manner of sin from our lives. All we must remember to do is to have faith and know in truth that Jesus came to take away the sin of the world.

(Picture sourced from ChristiansUnite.com http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)

Jesus Heals the Sick

(Luke 4:38-41)

In many places through the gospels, Jesus heals the sick and casts out demons. This was a significant part of the message of Jesus and also part of the work of the Apostles when they commenced their ministry. In fact when Jesus first sent them out in pairs it was to preach the good news of the Gospel and to have authority to cast out demons and to heal every disease and infirmity. (Matthew 10:1) So why was this such an important part of the ministry?

healing the sick and infirmWhen Jesus performed these miraculous works he could not be hidden. People came from all around to receive these gifts of healing and release from Jesus as gifts from God. And these miracles bore witness to the ministry he brought as well as to his authenticity as the Christ from God.

Then we see that Jesus told the disciples when they were to spread the word that these would be some of the signs to accompany the message. Healing of the sick and casting out demons would accompany those who believed and the Lord would confirm the truth of the message by giving these signs. He showed this at the end of Mark 16.

We also see that Jesus was preaching a message of freedom and release from bondage. Both demon possession and sickness are physical and spiritual forms of bondage from which men need release. The message of liberty provides release from all forms of bondage and slavery, including these afflictions.

But do we still have access to this healing power today? Absolutely! I can testify from personal experience the power of God to heal in my own life. I have personal testimonies of the power of God to heal me on my website at this link. The Lord has healed me of a number of serious and not so serious illnesses. And there were reasons for the healings and things learned both by myself and others.

But aside from my own experience, does the Lord still offer the gift of healing the sick to the church? Yes he does, and the process is described in the book of James in chapter 5 verses 13-15. It is quite a simple process which you or I can readily take advantage of when or if the need arises. If you are ill all you need to do is this. Approach the elders of the church and have them anoint you with oil and pray in faith for your healing, and believe that you will receive the healing from the Lord. That’s it!

The Lord does not want his people to suffer unnecessarily, which is why he has given this authority to the elders of the church. It is not his will that anyone suffer and why this healing power is still available to us today. It may not be a miraculous or instantaneous healing as happened in the Lord’s day, but sometimes it happens that way too. What is important for you when you are suffering is to be humble, come to the Lord in obedience to the word and seek the anointing with oil and prayer from the elders for your healing. The Lord has given them his authority for this purpose so that you don’t have to suffer needlessly. So do not be afraid to seek his gift in this way and like those in the bible receive the healing on offer.

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Seek the Lord and Never, Ever Give Up

(Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus was a man blind from birth. He eked out his existence through begging on the streets. The outlook for his life was poor. He was rejected by people, as we will see, and had little to look forward to. But he had one thing that shone out, faith. His faith was great and he received his reward for his faith. And we too can learn a great lesson from Bartimaeus.

healing blind bartimaeusAs Jesus walked down the road from Jericho with his disciples and a multitude, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus coming, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Verse 47)

The people rejected him by rebuking him for calling out and told him to be quiet. Did Bartimaeus listen to the people? No. He cried out all the more. Bartimaeus had clearly heard about Jesus and what he had done in healing others, and this was probably his only opportunity to get close to the Lord. He was not about to let the opportunity pass him by, but was going to use all his energy and effort to get the attention of the Lord. He wanted to be healed of his blindness and this was his chance.

What would have happened if he had listened to the people? If he had been silent as they rebuked him, Jesus would have passed by and the opportunity would be lost forever to receive his sight. But Bartimaeus was made of tough stuff. He wasn’t about to give up when the Lord was so close. He was going to do all in his power to gain the Lord’s attention so he could ask him to be healed.

What if the Lord had just passed by and ignored him? Well he would have been no better nor worse than he was anyway. But at least he would have known he had done the best he could. But of course the Lord did not pass him by. Jesus stopped in the road and said, “Call him.”

Interestingly we see the immediate change in the people. From rebuking him and telling him to be silent one minute, they now said, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.” (Verse 49) And we see the eagerness of Bartimaeus by, “…throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus.” (Verse 50)

Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus said, “Master, let me receive my sight.” (Verse 51) Jesus responded saying, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Verse 52)

We need to learn the lesson of Bartimaeus. First, we must call on the Lord. Ask him, seek him and don’t be put off by those who might get in the way or tell you to be silent or stop wasting your time. Persistence pays off as Bartimaeus proved. The converse is that you will never receive what you seek if you are not willing to ask for it.

Second, make it your priority and focus. When the opportunity presents itself, focus 100% on getting the best from the opportunity while the window of opportunity is open. Bartimaeus had a small window of opportunity while the Lord was walking past him, and he maximised his opportunity to the best of his ability. He could not see, he could not walk over to the Lord, but he had faith and he could call out…loudly and be heard. He used what he had, and received the blessing of the Lord for his efforts and his faith. We may be in the same situation. We may have certain disabilities that prevent us from doing some things, but they do not prevent us from doing anything. You can always pray to the Lord for his help and your faith will be repaid as Bartimaeus received his sight through his faith.

Third, when the Lord calls you, as he called Bartimaeus, don’t just sit there by the side of the road! Throw back your mantle and spring up to the Lord to ask your question or receive what he has to give. When the Lord calls, answer him. Be prepared to listen when the Lord speaks to you so that you can receive the gift he is offering or the guidance and direction you are seeking.

Finally, follow the Lord. Always follow the Lord for he will guide you to greater insight and understanding. Learn his ways and understand his path and then you will be able to follow him as he wants. The lessons of Bartimaeus are valuable for all of us to learn. Most of all, when you are seeking the Lord over any matter, never, ever give up.

(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com/)