Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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John 8:2-6 (NIV)

At dawn he [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

The Pharisees had the master plan. They were going to take down this Jesus who ate with sinners and healed on the Sabbath. They had caught a woman in the act of adultery. Surely, Jesus would throw the first stone. He must because the law required it. 

The same law they said she’d broken required them to testify against her. 

However, Jesus knows that the woman is just ammunition. The teachers and Pharisees don’t care about her act of infidelity. They care about taking down their foe—the radical who sought to upend their way of life. 

You can feel the tension of the moment—the condemned woman standing in the temple court with men surrounding her. An audience beyond them. Jesus writing in the sand. The crowd of accusers was growing frustrated with the man they sought to trap.

At their persistence, Jesus replies, “You who is without ANY sin, cast the first stone.”

It’s a mic drop moment in the temple court. The men fall away silently one by one. When they all leave, Jesus turns to the woman. 

He could bring condemnation to her, but instead He gives her a way out.

Jesus said words that ought to strike triumphant chords for each of us, “If none of your accusers remain to condemn you, condemnation is not what I want to give you either. The gift I am giving you today is compassion. Go and sin no more.” 

The message here is that no one who is in Christ has to live condemned. Jesus knew then and knows now that you need divine compassion, not condemnation.

Jesus knows something about this woman and you. He sees the you on the other side of this season of turmoil. His why is: “If I can just give her a chance to live on the other side of these bad choices, she will prove to creation that she can honor God with a better life.”

The reason you are not condemned is because God sees that same chance in you. 

You are not who you should be—yet—but you are not condemned. 

Compassion will always cure more sins than condemnation. Jesus knew this woman didn’t need to die. She needed a chance to change. That’s why He didn’t join the guys trying to condemn her. He knew her capacity for change. 

Do you know how much Jesus wants you to have a better second half? Do you know why He won’t let you withdraw from life? Do you know why He snatches you up when your emotions get too low? 

The only explanation you need is that God saw something in you that you couldn’t see in yourself. 

God knows you don’t need to die, you need time to change. Go and embrace His compassion. 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death,”  Romans 8:1 (NIV).


Matthew 17:19-20 (NIV)

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Have you ever questioned an act of faith that didn’t seem to work? That’s what happens in today’s passage with the disciples who failed to heal a demon-possessed boy. Let’s explore why this happens. 

Here’s the backstory:

Jesus and Peter, James, and John went up the Mountain of Transfiguration, while the other disciples were ministering in the community around the mountain. Keep in mind that Jesus had equipped His disciples with power, position, and purpose. 

We don’t know how long Jesus and the three were up on the mountain, but we know that a father brought a boy to the other disciples asking for him to be healed. The boy had been convulsing and foaming at the mouth for years. He was possessed by a demon and suffering greatly. 

The disciples appeared to be somewhat startled by the father’s request (possibly because this is where their faith starts to weaken). Jesus prepared His men to do this type of work—the power to fix the broken, the wherewithal to deliver the captive, and the capacity to heal the hurting. And they tried. 

One would think that they would regroup and try something else, but Mark’s gospel tells us that they get tangled up with the scribes on whether they really have the power to do this. They become preoccupied with fighting the enemies of Jesus.

As this event comes to a head, Jesus returns to a crowd in an uproar over this boy. The father calls out to Jesus about His disciples’ failure to drive out the demon. You can imagine that this scene was tense and the crowd was at its full height of emotion. 

Jesus has to come in and rescue the situation and the boy, but He’s frustrated. He says to the crowd, “‘O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!’” (Mark 9:19, NIV)

He heals the boy and God is praised for what He has done. The church fight ceases. The disturbance in the community is over. The father is satisfied. Jesus is being celebrated. What a wonderful worship experience. 

Everyone appears to be good, except for the disciples. They are disturbed. They approach Jesus privately because they have a few questions. Their minds are still back in that worship experience where they realized their faith wasn’t working. 

They were honest with themselves. They said, “My faith isn’t working.” They were happy that Jesus saved them, but they weren’t satisfied that they didn’t perform in that moment. 

The Application: 

Sometimes, we, like the disciples, want to say, “Lord, why isn’t this faith thing working for me?”

“I sang the song. I read the scripture. It doesn’t seem to be working for me. Maybe there’s something wrong with my faith.” 

We cry out to God, “You said we have power. When I went to use it, I came up powerless. You said I had peace, but if I told the truth, Lord, I can’t find peace. You said I had joy unspeakable, but it’s hard for me to find joy sometimes. You said I was blessed and highly favored, and I can’t find that.” 

Have you ever found yourself in a place where these disciples found themselves? Have you ever found yourself unable to access the power of faith? 

Although it might feel like that sometimes, your faith still works. Here’s why.

  1. Faith works, but you have to work it. In response to the disciples’ question of “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus says, “Kind cannot come out by anything but prayer," (Mark 9:29, NIV). The point Jesus is making is that overcoming struggles, demons, relationships require our participation in the act of faith. And the act of faith is different depending on the “kind.” In other words, God doesn’t want an autopilot, formulaic approach to faith struggles. He wants a dynamic relationship with you that doesn’t move in straight lines.
  2. Faith won’t leave you alone. The disciples had something gnawing at the inside of them. They couldn’t rest. Jesus showed up and gave them a victory for their team. That guilty feeling is simply God’s grace. It’s the “I’ve got better in me.” 
  3. He still has faith in you. Jesus gave a rebuke and a remedy. Right there in the remedy is a gentle reminder that there will be a rematch. This kind comes out this way. When you failed, you failed in front of everybody. They all gave up on you. You probably gave up on you. I provided a remedy because I didn’t give up on you. This problem can be solved. This issue can be beaten. 

Will you put your faith to work?

Job 2:2-8 (AMP)

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming around on the earth and from walking around on it.” 

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered and reflected on My servant Job? For there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God [with reverence] and abstains from and turns away from evil [because he honors God]. And still he maintains and holds tightly to his integrity, although you incited Me against him to destroy him without cause.” 

Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! Yes, a man will give all he has for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh [and severely afflict him]; and he will curse You to Your face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, only spare his life.”

So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat [down] among the ashes (rubbish heaps).

Have you ever been the victim of circumstances out of your control? Anger that comes from nowhere against you. A crime. A breach of trust. That’s what happened to Job. He did not know he would be a sacrifice to show the goodness and power of his God. 

Satan is on a mission to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He wants to steal your life, kill your spirit, and destroy your faith. He’s convinced that if a righteous man like Job is hit hard enough, he would curse God to his face. 

But God called Satan’s bluff. He knew Job trusted Him and that His love can’t be manipulated.

So, Satan kills off all of Job’s children, all of his livestock perishes, and his entire body is covered with boils and sores. 

Our main character goes to sit on a rubbish heap (a pile of ashes and dung) and begins to scrape his sores with a broken piece of pottery. He’s trying to absorb it all. An important point here is that Job is not thinking about next steps. He’s not cursing God.

Stuck at the Top of the Ash Heap

He’s in a place many of us get stuck—pain and unforgiveness. He is the portrait of spiritual unforgiveness. He’s stuck trying to decide to not feel the pain or to move forward. This may be the hardest decision you’ll ever have to make. 

But there’s a secret you need to know about Job and about you. If you are one of God’s special treasures, one of His children, you can’t sit on that ash heap. You can’t decide not to feel. Job hasn’t done that. He’s still scraping. He’s still got some fight in him. 

How to Get Off the Ash Heap

The key to getting up from the ash heap is forgiveness. You have to make the choice to forgive. Forgiveness is not a spiritual gift. It’s the ultimate gift and it was given to you when Jesus died on that cross. God wants you to wake up in the morning and exercise forgiveness. We live with His undeserved forgiveness.

That’s the truth that brings all Christians together - we all carry the revelation that the only reason you’re alive today is because a good God forgave you of your sins. 

Did you hear that? You’re alive. Satan attacked Job. Satan attacked you. But he didn’t take you out. You’re still alive.

That’s why I’m inching up next to you on that ash heap, to share some good news. You have no business on this heap. You’re allowing your unforgiveness to steal precious time from an otherwise blessed life. You’ve got too much to live for. 

Practical Truths About Forgiveness

1. Decide that forgiveness is worth more than pain. He calls you to forgive. 

2. Know that progress is worth more than living with unforgiveness even if you hurt in the process. 

3. Realize that unforgiveness is a betrayal of God’s mercy. It’s also a betrayal of you. 

4. Accept that pain accompanies progress, but God gives you help along the way. 

5. Honor God’s goodness more than you feel the pain. 

6. Know that you may never be the person you were before the hurt. You may even be better than you were before. 

The Grace of the Ash Heap

Pain is real. Job’s pain is real. We have to acknowledge that. The grace on the ash heap is Job scraping his sores. He still wants to feel. That’s the grace. He decides not to check out. And if you’re there—angry and stuck—know that you can come back. Own the grace that you still have fight in you. If you have passion enough to be angry, you can make the choice to forgive. And remember, pain is a season. You will not be here forever. God wins.


Luke 9:12-13 (NIV)

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." He replied, "You give them something to eat."

When the needs are great, what can you do? That’s a lesson the disciples had to learn after some tough love from Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000. 

They asked Him to dismiss the crowd to the “surrounding villages and countryside” because they were in the middle of nowhere. Jesus told them He wasn’t letting them out of their work as disciples, which is a concept I’m not sure they understood at that point. 

You see, He wanted them to think higher than “here’s a big need we can’t meet.” He wanted them to stop thinking in terms of “let’s get this party wrapped up and get back to being disciples.” I’m sure they wanted to rest and eat and talk to Him on the personal level they were used to, but Jesus was preparing them for something else. He was preparing the disciples to grow their faith practically. 

The people following Him around all day didn’t just want to engage with Him on a spiritual level. They had physical and emotional needs too, and that’s what Jesus is saying here. He wants your spiritual incarnation to become ministry engagement. Let’s look at how he did that. 

Step in when it’s inconvenient. Jesus responded to their request with a directive to accept that the crowd’s spiritual transformation is His doing, but their care, comfort, and connection must be the disciples’ concern. He could intervene in this situation very easily, miraculously providing provision, but in this case, He didn’t do that—yet. 

Look at how He’s blessed you. He says, “I’m going to push you today. I’m not sending this crowd away. You feed them. We don’t send people away to search for the solution since we are the solution they need.” 

So, the disciples look around for what resources they have. They locate a basket filled with two fish and five loaves of bread. That’s enough to feed maybe two people. They bring it to Jesus, He blesses it, and the entire crowd of 5,000 men and their families are fed and the disciples collect 12 baskets of “leftovers.”

Jesus used their “offering” to pour the blessing. 

Remember who lives inside you. He’s given us His Holy Spirit. And the Spirit’s gifts are discerning need and sensing threats. Jesus is telling us we don’t get to just sit in the observation tower and grow spiritually. We must walk beside those in need to grow ourselves spiritually. Walking with Jesus makes you observe and when you see need, you are its first solution. 

In what ways are you asking Jesus to dismiss what He’s asked you to address? 

Luke 18:35-42 (AMP)

Jesus said to him, “Regain your sight; your [personal trust and confident] faith [in Me] has made you well.”

I’m learning to live according to the power of my faith. Are you doing the same?

Here we are at the end of August, the temperature beginning to change and our lives about to go through another cycle of change. Our children are about to be rushed off to school with lunchboxes in hand while our young adults have been dropped off in their dorms, facing transitions of their own. Isn’t this the best time to address where we stand and where we’re going? Longer days are ahead of us—our vacations on the beach have ended, the slow drip of time gone until summer rolls around again. Now is the time to reassess what we have accomplished this year and put a plan in place for goals we would like to fulfill throughout the second half of the year. 

I want to reflect on a passage in Luke Chapter 18. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, and on His way, He passes through Jericho. Crowds form with mixed reactions—some of adoration and some of spiritual suspicion. A blind man begins to cry louder and louder until he gains Jesus’ attention. Jesus singles him out and asks him what he wants. The man wants to regain his sight; he wants to regain something that was once lost—something he once had, something he holds faith in Jesus to restore. And as the text says, the man receives his sight because his faith made him well. Jesus performs the miracle. 

Now let’s go back to the part where the blind man is crying for Jesus’ attention in a crowd full of some who do not share his faith in Jesus. He stood true to his convictions. He stood strong in his faith. He did not let the people around him that did not share the size of his faith stop him from a God-sized opportunity. While it may have been impossible for others, the blind man believes that despite how many keys didn’t work in the past, God said he was going to open a door, and this was going to be the key that opened it. He cried and cried, and he cried louder. And when he shouted and praised God, it made everyone do the same. The man’s faith is rewarded.

Developing and maintaining your faith may not be easy, but the more we begin to trust God with the details of our lives, the simpler it becomes. Spiritual opportunities will always be afforded to us when we maintain our faith. The power of faith is how you get God’s attention. Don’t use a seasonal or situational faith. Don’t lean on God every now and then. Live as an expression of faith, and you will see your goals reached and your prayers answered. 

Follow your path, no matter the people around you trying to shut you up while you’re shouting out. Ignore their limited faith, and keep crying like the blind man. There will be people around you that may not understand your faith and may not understand your goals, but do not allow them to discourage you from fulfilling the aspirations you have set. Imagine a life so powerful, effective, and purposeful that it takes God to make it happen, and don’t let anyone stop you.