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The prompt for this week is…

Crowd

GO

She knew if she just touched even His garment, she would be healed of this flow of blood that has plagued her for twelve years. She had heard of this man, Jesus, and knew He had performed great acts of healing. If she could just get to Him, maybe she too could be healed. So she worked her way through the crowd. Everyone was pressing in upon Him, but somehow she found an opening. She was behind Him and reached her arm out as far as she could until her fingertips felt the coarse fabric. As soon as she did, she knew something had changed. The blood had stopped, her affliction was cured. Giddy with happiness she tried to blend back into the crowd and get home as fast as she could to tell her family of the miracle. But before she could get away, He turned around and asked the crowd, “Who touched My garments?” His disciples were incredulous, the whole crowd was pressing upon Him, surely there were many people touching Him. But He looked at her, and she knew that He knew. She had been found out, so she confessed to Him and to everyone the whole truth. She was ready to be judged or punished, but instead she heard from Him these comforting words, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be well from your affliction.” (Mark 5:34)

Maybe this isn’t exactly how it happened, but if you read the account in Mark chapter 5, it’s pretty close. This story of the woman being healed of the flow of blood has always spoken to me. How sweet that the Lord knew the difference between the crowd’s touch and her touch. He knew that the crowd was just there out of curiosity, driven by mob mentality, so they could see up close what miracle this Jesus would perform next. But this woman was different. She was driven by desperation; her only goal was to be able to touch Him, because she had the faith that to touch Him was to be healed. The Lord didn’t respond to the pressing crowd and the crowd received nothing from Him. But He did respond to this woman’s reaching out in faith and as a result, she was the only one in the crowd who received the healing.

So often I ask myself, “Am I just part of the crowd, or am I this woman?” Am I really desperate to touch the Lord or am I content to be just part of the crowd, touching Him in a superficial way? Yes, I attend the church meetings and yes, I read my Bible, and yes, maybe all week I’ve been involved in many activities that seem like they are close to the Lord and related to the Lord. Why is it then sometimes I feel like I receive nothing? Maybe it’s because I haven’t really “touched” Him. The Lord only responds to those who desperately seek Him. So I’m encouraged, in my personal time with the Lord, to step out of the crowd and reach out my arms in faith. This kind of faith will heal us and cause the Lord to speak a personal word to us. If this is our experience every morning, then we can really go about our day in peace.

STOP

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“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle.” – Revelation 1:13-14

In the very first chapter of Revelation, which was written by the aged apostle while in exile, John describes the vision of the Christ he saw. He saw the Son of Man walking in the midst of the seven lampstands and He was clothed with priestly garments. In the Old Testament it was the job of the high priest to keep the fire of the lampstand burning all the time since it was the only source of light in the tabernacle. This job involved mainly two things – trimming the charred wicks to reduce the smoking and adding fresh oil to keep the fire burning. This is what it meant to dress the lamps.

I’ve been enjoying lately that this is exactly what the Lord is doing today in the church. In Revelation 1 the seven lampstands are symbols of the seven churches that eventually were the recipients for this epistle. As lampstands, their function was to shine in the dark age they were in. What an encouragement it must have been to them that Christ was the one walking in their midst, caring for their condition, and fulfilling His priestly duty of keeping the fire burning. What an encouragement that He does the same for us in the churches today, especially considering that the age today is surely much darker than that of apostle John’s time and the need for us to shine is so much more intensified.

It might be a strange prayer, but for the past few mornings I’ve been asking the Lord to trim my wick and add more oil. If a candle or lantern has any charred parts, though it might be burning, what it gives off is more smoke than light. If we’re honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that there are many charred parts in us – all our opinions, concepts, natural preferences, basically anything in us that is not Christ. So even though we may be very active in pursuing the Lord and serving in the church, because those things have not been “trimmed,” we can give off unpleasant smoke which makes us and everyone around us uncomfortable. If we are open to Him and allow Him, the Lord as the real High Priest has the way to deal with those things in us by applying the cross to our being. He doesn’t quench a smoking flax, but He does care for it so that it shines again. Then when the negative things are dealt with, He comes in and adds the fresh oil which is simply a fresh supply of the Spirit. The Spirit is our fuel and supply for living the Christian life and the church life and is what sustains us to keep burning and shining.

If we would allow the Lord to “dress our lamps” in this way everyday, how pleasant the church life would be and what a bright testimony we would give to those in the world! I’d like people to sense light when they’re around me and not be made uncomfortable by my “smoke.” Which would you rather be, someone who’s “smoking” or someone who’s shining?

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