Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 9 Feb., 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 3, (Chap. 3)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 15-22)
Trusting The Unseen – Much of what we look forward to is not readily visible. We know what we desire in life, but how we will achieve those desires are not always clear. While we may not know when or how life ahead will be shaped, we have confidence in God that something better is ahead. This is the message the Apostle Paul gave to the Christians in Corinth (cf. I Corinthians 13:12, NLT). The metaphor Paul used to illustrate his point, was the mirror used in ancient times. Mirrors did not have the sturdy, finely polished surfaces we have today. Mirrors contained many defects. In ancient times they were made of stone, common metal that tarnished, and bronze, which contained little reflectivity. Paul highlighted these defects to say that the better things God has for us can’t always be seen clearly in our present circumstances. However, what God has destined for us will bring great clarity. Paul explains further in a later letter to the Christians in Corinth, that our hope is not in our present troubles which are obvious; but our hope is in the “unseen things” God has in store for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18. NLT). It is our faith as Christians, which allow us to be confident in our future. Although in the present we cannot clearly see ahead, we are assured that God has a more desirable place for us as we proceed farther (cf. Hebrews 11:1-3, NLT). Paul said that things we see now, have not come from anything that could have been seen previously. For Christians the “unseen” is the realm in which God works to fulfill His greater purposes. God did not tell Abraham where he was sending him; but Abraham “believed” in God’s promise, and became the father of the faithful (cf. Genesis 12:1-5, NLT). As Christians we come to learn that an important part of the language of our faith is the “journey motif.” Our confidence is in knowing that, although unseen, God always has something better for us. The Apostle Paul said, “We live by believing and not by seeing.” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7, NLT) In the King James translation, the verse reads, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” In that verse a different word appears in the Greek for “sight.” The Greek word used is eidos, which means “appearance” or “fashion.” The verse reminds us that our lives are shaped and guided by our convictions (faith), and not by the temporal state of our beings. This is why and how we can trust the “unseen,” as God’s future for each of us!
Believing Beyond Doubts and Distractions – Our faith often will be challenged by doubts and distractions. Sometimes despite our best efforts, our apprehensions will come because of what others might say about us. In his devotional book, Begin Again, author and pastor Max Lucado offers this insight: “And try as we might to walk as straight as we can, chances are a toe is going to get stubbed, and we are going to get hurt.” Regardless of how we’re challenged, it’s important that we put faith above any criticism, distractions, and inner doubt. Jairus experienced an encounter as he sought the healing of his daughter, who was near death. Although Jairus was a respected citizen and leader of his local synagogue, he believed the healing of his daughter was certain, although it could not be seen. Jairus trusted Jesus to heal his daughter, against a chorus of criticisms by his neighbors. The neighbors said the efforts of Jairus were futile, because the daughter had died. Jesus changed the narrative, and told Jairus not to be fearful, instead have faith (cf. Mark 5:22-23; 35-36, NLT). When the people told Jairus there was no need to go any farther, because his daughter was dead, “Jesus paid no attention to what they said… (Mark 5:36, NCV).” Max Lucado commented: “I love that line! It describes the critical principle for seeing the unseen: Ignore what people say. Block them out. Turn them off. Close your ears. And if you must, walk away.” The experience of Bartimaeus who sought Jesus for the recovery of his sight, was similar to the challenge Jairus faced. Bartimaeus was determined to regain his sight, but was met by hecklers who told him to be “quiet.” They could not endure his incessant pleading to Jesus. It was that pleading, and his confident faith, that brought healing to Bartimaeus. What he could not see, he believed and was healed (cf. Mark 10:46b-48;51-52, NLT). To begin again, our faith must be in God alone (cf. James 1:5-6, NLT). The future is not determined by what we see or perceive, but in believing that God will reveal what He has for us. Lucado quotes a prayer of a concentration survivor: “I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.” Now that is faith, believing anyhow!
What We Believe
Our way forward is through our faith in God!
1. God’s purpose for us is real, even when we don’t see it!
2. The conviction of our faith, is greater than any doubts!
I Corinthians 13:12, NLT
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflect-ions in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know is partial and incomplete,but then I will know every-thing completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather,we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Hebrews 11:1-3, NLT
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-7 NLT
“So we are always confident,even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing.”
Mark 5:22-23; 35-36, NLT
“Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet, pleading fervently with Him.“My little daughter is dying,”he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” While he [Jesus]was still speaking to her [a recently healed woman], messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him,“Your daughter is dead. There's no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don't be afraid, just have faith.”
Mark 10:46b-48;51-52, NLT
“A blind beggar named Bar-timaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. WhenBartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. Be he only shouted louder, “Son of David,have mercy on me!” “What do you want me to do for you?”Jesus asked. “My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see.”And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see,and he followed Jesus down the road.”
James 1:5-6 NLT
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with