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Talking to Jesus: Now What?

” ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:52)

We’re looking one more time at the last verse in Mark 10. We saw yesterday that Jesus’ words to Bartimaeus are a clue about what God wants from us: to trust Him with everything we’ve got.

ttj_350Did you notice Bartimaeus’s response to being healed, to having his prayer answered? He followed Jesus. Jesus did not tell the beggar to follow Him. He didn’t ask for any kind of lifetime commitment. He didn’t lay a guilt trip on the man: “After all I’ve given you, shouldn’t you really give your life to me?”

No, Bartimaeus just naturally followed his Lord after receiving such a huge gift from Him. Why wouldn’t he? What better way could he use the independence that came with his new sight? What more natural thing could there be for any of us beggars than to follow Jesus along the road after He freed us from slavery to sin and a future in hell?

Think: Does that last sentence above make you feel guilty? When you think about the new life you have in Christ — and all of the good gifts He has given to you — does following Him feel like the natural thing to do? Or does it feel like an obligation? Why do you think we struggle with that?

Pray: Ask God to help you to want to follow Him naturally and gratefully as someone who has been given the greatest gift of all.

Do: Aside from the gift of your salvation in Christ, make a quick list of 5 of the biggest gifts you’ve ever been given by God.

Talking to Jesus: What God Wants

” ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:52)

What does God really want from us? It’s a question that comes up a lot on this site. And Jesus’ words to the blind beggar give us another clue: “Your faith has healed you.”

ttj_350I’m not going to talk about what God wants from you in order to miraculously heal you or your loved ones. I’ve known a lot of people with giant faith whom God lovingly refused to heal. That’s not the point here.

I think what Jesus said reveals God’s heart for us in every area of life: He wants us to believe Him. He wants us to trust Him like a little kid trusts his mom and dad. He doesn’t want us to try Him out as one of many possible theories. He doesn’t want us to work His system in hopes of making ourselves better people. He doesn’t want us to earn His favor by first being flawless.

He wants us to trust Him, to be convinced of His absolute power and goodness and love for us. He wants us to trust Him more.

Think: Why do you think God is so responsive to our faith in Him? Why is our trusting Him so important?

Pray: Ask God to help you to learn to trust Him more.

Do: Think about this idea while reading James 1:2-4.

Talking to Jesus: See the Blind Chainsaw Juggler!

” ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ” (Mark 10:51)

“What do you want me to do for you?”

“I want you to send someone to teach me to juggle chainsaws.”

“Why?”

ttj_350“Because people would pay a lot of money to see a blind guy juggle chainsaws. After I earned enough from my act, I could pay for a trip to go see this doctor I heard about who specializes in my condition. He does this progressive treatment, and I might get my vision in a few years.”

When he got his chance, Bartimaeus didn’t ask Jesus to help him with the first step in a complicated plan to get what he wanted. He simply asked for what He wanted and let Jesus worry about the plan. Simple prayers are evidence of big faith in God. Complicated prayers can be evidence of faith in my ability to make good plans.

Think: How often do you ask God to give you a step on the path to what you want instead of just asking for what you want? Why do you think we tend to tell God what method to use to give us what we’re asking for?

Pray: Practice this. Think through a recent request you’ve been making of God and strip it down to the bottom line of what you really want. Then ask Him for it as simply as you can and trust Him to give it to you (or not) in the way He thinks is best.

Do: If you pray with a group this week, listen to the requests and notice how different people ask God for what they want.

Talking to Jesus: Jesus Stopped

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:49-50)

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a private person. I’m a guy. I don’t tend to talk about what I hope God is going to do in my life. Even with the really important things, it’s not natural for me to tell other people about my private prayers.

ttj_350I’ve learned over the years that I need to find a way to open up (with the right people) about the urgent prayers I’m taking to God. Two reasons. One is that when I tell people what I’m asking God for, they can ask Him, too. It multiplies the number of callers.

Here’s the second reason: When you pray in public and God answers, God gets more famous. More people praise Him. More people start bringing their requests to Him instead of handling everything on their own. Bartimaeus made a fearless public prayer request, and everybody saw the answer.

Think: What do we risk when we tell others what we’re asking God for? What can be gained by praying for our needs with a trusted group of people?

Pray: Ask God to give you the courage to let some other people know what you’re urgently praying for, and ask Him to show His power to those people in how He answers your requests (even when the answer is “no”).

Do: Make a quick list of five people you could ask to pray with you about anything. Then make a quick list of five things other people have asked you to pray with them about recently.

Talking to Jesus: Pray Loud

“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ ” (Mark 10:47-48)

Have you ever yelled out to God in prayer? Bartimaeus, the blind beggar sitting on the ground as Jesus walked past in a crowd, pretty much had to yell to be heard. It wasn’t proper or polite. People told him to pipe down. Have some respect for the rabbi. Let it go.

ttj_350They saw his refusal to shut up as obnoxious. Jesus saw his refusal to shut up as evidence of Bartimaeus’s faith in the power of God. Notice: He was still respectful. He still called Jesus the Son of David, a name for the Messiah. But Bartimaeus would not stop calling out to Him. He wanted to see, and he knew God could do that.

I’m not saying we should all be yelling at God, but when you really believe He’s the only one who can help you don’t give up asking after the first try. If you’re convinced He’s the answer, you ask again. If the need is urgent, you get louder. You don’t demand. But you don’t stop asking until you know the answer.

Think: What are some of things you’ve prayed most urgently for? If you could see your prayer life in iTunes, what would be on the Most Played list? Can repetition in prayer be a sign of faith?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust Him enough to be persistent and urgent with your neediest prayers without becoming disrespectful.

Do: Repeat the prayer above.

Talking to Jesus: Pray Like a Begger

“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ ” (Mark 10:46-47)

Notice how different this prayer is from that of James and John. We just spent a few days looking at Jesus’ response to their prayer for power. Mark immediately tells us about another audacious request, but the approach is radically different.

ttj_350Bartimaeus was blind; he couldn’t do much to provide for himself. So he’d find a spot near the city gate, spread out his cloak on the ground in front of him, and start begging for people to drop money on it as they went by. But this day was different. He caught the word that Jesus was in the big crowd tramping out of town.

Like James and John, Bartimaeus believed the Jesus was the Messiah and that He had great power. But he couldn’t wait for a quiet moment alone with Jesus; he had to act now. So he started shouting to be heard. They called Jesus “teacher;” he called out to the “Son of David,” the name for the Christ. They asked for something they may have thought they were owed; Bartimaeus pleaded for mercy.

Think: Can you think of times when you’ve asked God for things with the same attitude as that of James of John? Can you think of desperate prayers submitted to God with the humility and urgency of Bartimaeus?

Prayer: Ask God to help you to be both humble and bold when approaching Him in prayer — both highly respectful and deeply honest about your desires.

Do: Write out a specific request you’ve made of God in the last week or so and notice what your words show about your attitude toward Him.

Talking to Jesus: Now Serving

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

Jesus spelled out the bottom-line difference between the powerful in this world and the powerful in His kingdom: In this world, people seek power so they can be served, so they can call the shots, so they can set the direction, so they can be free from having to take orders.

ttj_350In Jesus’ world, the powerful are the ones who serve others, who take the orders, who follow God’s direction by giving their lives away to as many people as possible. After all, Jesus said, that’s exactly what He came to do. And that’s exactly what He did.

What is our idea of a leader? Someone who gets other people to help him accomplish his mission. What is Jesus’ idea of a leader? A servant: Someone who figures out how to help other people accomplish their missions. Someone who uses himself up to make other people successful at what they need to do — from finding food to eat to getting the day’s work done.

Think: Do you think of yourself as a leader or a follower? Either way, who is following you? Who are you following? Why?

Pray: Ask God to help you want to take leadership by becoming a servant in the same way Jesus did.

Do: Make a quick list of 5 people who serve you and 5 people you serve. What does your list say about your attitude toward serving others as Jesus did?