Do You Want To Be Made Whole?

Grace For The Journey

10Aug It was the time of the Jews annual Feast of the Passover, one of the three great religious feasts celebrated during the year.  Jesus was in Jerusalem to observe the feast.  But on this particular day, instead of finding Jesus in the Temple, we find Him instead in the area know as Bethesda.  There was a pool of water in this area called the Pool of Bethesda.  This was beside the sheep market, or near the sheep gate.

We see here . . .

The multitude,

The man,

The Master

And

A miracle.

We are not given his name, and, according to John 5:5 and 7, John calls him “a certain man who had an infirmity thirty-eight years and “the sick man.”   His days were spent lying by the Pool of Bethesda, wishing that by some miracle his body could be healed and his life could be changed.

The impotent man had believed

That his miracle would

Take place in the pool.

However . . .

When Jesus came to where he was,

A pool-side miracle occurred,

And the man was healed

Without even getting wet.

This story reminds us that Jesus . . .

Has the ability to meet us

At the point of our need,

And overcome that

Which is overcoming us.

Before the Lord intervened for this man, He asked him an interesting question.  In verse six, Jesus said, “Do you want to be made whole?”  This is a good question for each of us today?  Do you want to be whole?  We all have things in our lives that hinder us and keep us from the life God wants us to live.

I want us to follow our Lord in this story, and watch Him as He changes the life of this man.  There are three things we observe about Him in this text.  Notice first of all . . .

1) WHERE THE LORD WENT.

The opening verse of John chapter five says that, “Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”  In the next two verses we are told specifically where the Lord went in the great city.  You can learn a lot about Jesus by simply studying the places He went.

  • He went to the well in Samaria to witness to a lost woman.
  • He went to Zacchaeus’ house to change a crooked man.
  • He went into the Temple to run out those that were abusing God’s house.
  • He went to the tomb of Lazarus to raise the dead.

In our text, as well, we learn about the character of Christ by observing where He went. Notice first of all, Jesus went . . .

To the Hurting People.

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He did not first go to the Temple where He could rub elbows with the Jewish leaders.  He didn’t go to Herod’s palace so that He could meet the king.  Nor did He go to the Roman governor’s house in order to “get in good” with the local politicians and power players.  When Jesus came into the city, He went to the place where the hurting people had assembled.

He went to those whose lives were

Difficult and whose hearts were broken.

Contrary to what many believe . . .

The Lord Jesus is not looking for perfect people.

He is seeking for those who are hurting.

The Bible says in Matthew 9:12, “But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’”

Notice not only that Jesus went to the hurting people, but notice also that He went . . .

To the Helpless People.

Look in the text, and notice again verse three.  John describes the crowd gathered around the pool as being “sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed . . .”  The word translated “sick” literally means “without strength.”  It describes someone who is powerless.

The Lord Jesus came to minister to those who could not help themselves. He came to those who were powerless against their disability and disease.

2) WHAT THE LORD WONDERED.

Among the sick and lame bodies littering the pool side, one man in particular caught the Lord’s eye.  Looking at him, Jesus knew the long and painful story that had been this man’s life.  Jesus knew everything, and yet He wondered about something regarding this man.  He asked him the question, “Do you want to be made whole?”  Literally, the question is, “Do you want to be well; complete again?”  

At first glance this seems like a stupid question.  What sick person doesn’t want to be well?  However, as we meditate on this question, we realize this is actually a very good question.

Notice a couple of things Jesus wondered about this man. Notice first of all, Jesus wondered . . .

Was He Ready For A Change.

Though it would seem obvious that this man would be eager to be healed, in reality, not everyone is ready for a change.  Some, after years of battling their condition will give up, and will grow accustomed to their handicaps and hindrances.  After thirty-eight years, it could be that this man no longer wanted to be made well.  It could be that he was not ready for a change.

Unfortunately, Christ cannot help everybody.  That is because not everybody is ready for the change Christ will bring.  Some people are comfortable with their hang-ups and hardships.  They wear them like badges, and lean on them like crutches.

What about you?  Do you want to be made whole?  Do you want your marriage to be better?  Do you want to overcome your doubts and worries?  Do you want Christ to break that addiction in your life, or are you comfortable with your condition.

Jesus will not force Himself or His help on anyone.  If you are not ready to change, He will not help you.  Jesus wondered if this man was ready for a change.

Notice also, Jesus wondered . . .

Would He Respond to a Command.

Verse 8 says, “Jesus saith unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’”  Jesus commanded the man to do what he had been unable to do for 38 years.  When Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be made whole,” He was not only questioning the man’s readiness to change, but his willingness to comply as well.  Some will never be whole, and never experience a healthy Christian life because they will not obey the commands of Christ.

There is one more thing I want us to observe about our Lord in this text. Notice not only where Jesus went, and what Jesus wondered, but notice also finally:

3) WHY JESUS WORKS.

Verse 9 declares, “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.”  Verses 14-15 say, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, you art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you.’  The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.”

Notice first of all, Jesus works . . .

So That We Will Praise God.

The Lord found this man in the Temple.  He who had been for 38 years by the pool, now that he is able we find him in the Temple.  Clearly, the man wanted to give God thanks, and glorify Him for the miracle that had occurred in his life.  Christ had healed him, and he wanted to give praise to God.

If the Lord Jesus does something in your life, and works a miracle on your behalf, He does so in order that you might give praise to God, and glorify Him with your life.  The Lord Jesus works in our lives, not only so that we will praise God, but notice further that He works . . .

So That We Will Practice Godliness.

Verse 14 states, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’”

Jesus healed this man

To change not just his physical life,

But his spiritual life as well.

He worked in Him so that

He might begin to live for God.

Too many Christians today want a Christianity that demands nothing from them, and allows them to live in any manner they please.  The Lord Jesus does not work in our lives just so that we will continue in the path we have been traveling.  He works in us to change the practice of our lives.

The old, fiery evangelist from western North Carolina, Vance Havner, once said, “God saved us to make us holy, not happy. Some experiences may not contribute to our happiness, but all can be made to contribute to our holiness.”

Jesus met this man at the point of his need.  That happened to be beside a pool.  If Jesus could make a man whole beside a pool, is it not completely possible that He could do the same for you right where you are right now?  What is it you need Him to do for you?  If He does it, are you willing to give God praise, and live for Him?  If so, you could be made whole today.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Where Are Your Accusers

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

6Aug  The story The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne centers on a woman named Hester Prynne, living in 17th century Boston.  Prynne is forced to live everyday under a cloud of disgrace and shame, after giving birth to an illegitimate child.  The laws of the Puritan society in which she lived required her to wear a scarlet-colored “A” upon all her garments as a constant reminder that she was an adulterous.

The sin of adultery is certainly not a new one, and in John chapter 8, the Scribes and the Pharisees, in an effort to trap Jesus with His words, brought to Him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.

Those self-righteous religious leaders did not care about this woman, and had no real concern for what would happen to her.  To them she was only a pawn; a weapon they could use against Jesus of Nazareth.  Little did they know, however, that by bringing this sin-wrecked and shame-ridden woman to Christ, they were actually doing her a favor.

There are three things I want you to notice with me from the story of this woman, and her encounter with Christ.  Notice first of all . . .

1) THE SIN THAT TAINTED HER LIFE.

We know nothing about this woman and what had led her to this terrible day that is recorded in John chapter eight.  Somewhere in her unrevealed past, she began losing her grip upon everything decent.  We don’t know the circumstances that led her into the arms of a strange man, nor how she was discovered and exposed.  But when we meet her in John 8, she is the humiliated subject after being arrested by the Jewish authorities.

The roads to sin’s ruin may be many, but they all channel into the same dead end. Notice with me a couple of things about the sin that tainted this woman’s life . . .

1) The Seriousness of Her Sin.

John 8:4 says, “They say unto Him, ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.’”  This woman was taken in adultery, “in the very act.”  The first thing we learn from this passage is . . .

The Shame of Her Sin.

In your mind, try to picture this woman as she is pushed in front of this crowd, and her crime is publicly and loudly announced.  Can you see her in your mind?  Her head is down, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, and her eyes blurred with hot tears of anger and shame.  One moment she had been experiencing the rush of sinful pleasure; the next she was weakened by the nauseous feeling of being exposed.

The Bible reveals that one of the basic side-effects of sin is the sting of shame.  After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, one of their first reactions was that of shame.  The Bible says in Genesis 3:7, And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”  Sin had turned innocence into shame.

There is a second truth we see about this woman in this story. Think with me not only about the sin that tainted her life, but notice also further . . .

2) THE SENTENCE THAT THREATENED HER LIFE.

As you read on in John 8, you find that public humiliation was not the only problem that this woman faced as a result of her sin.  This woman’s sin was a matter of life and death.  The Scribes and the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus with a question of what her sentence and punishment should be.  It is important that we understand a couple of things about the sentence that threatened her life . . .

What Was Demanded.

John 8:5, says, “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do You say?”  These men were referring to the law of God that was given through Moses in Leviticus.  Leviticus 20:10 declares, “And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

While these men’s

Motives were corrupt,

Their claim was correct.

If you will notice, Jesus does not dispute what the Law of God says.

As we look at the sentence that threatened this woman’s life, notice not only what the law demanded, but notice further . . .

What Was Deserved.

It is very easy to view this woman in this story as a sympathetic figure, especially against the backdrop of the arrogant and conniving Jewish religious leaders.  However, you must not forget that she was “caught in the act.”  Before she was publicly humiliated, she was privately sleeping with someone other than her husband.  Nowhere in this text does Jesus indicate that this woman’s sin was “no big deal,” or that it was not worthy of punishment.

Though in the end

He did not condemn her,

He in no way condoned her either.

This woman stood in front of her accusers under the sentence of death.  The law demanded it, and her sin deserved it.  Thankfully, that is not where the story ends.

Notice not only the sin that tainted her life, and the sentence that threatened her life, but notice also lastly . . .

 3) THE SAVIOR THAT TRANSFORMED HER LIFE.

In the text, Jesus dealt wisely with the accusing Scribes and Pharisees.  Verse 7 says, “So when they continued asking Him, he raised Himself up, and said unto them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  One by one they each realized that they too were in some degree guilty.

Rather than an execution,

There was only an exit.

All the plaintiff’s left, as the Bible says in verse 9, “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

 The accusers walked away,

But the accused remained

In the presence of Jesus.

She could have slipped off as well,

As the last of the men walked away,

But she chose to stay with Jesus.

Notice a couple of things that I believe happened.  Notice first of all:

What She Recognized About Him.

Instead of carrying this adulteress to the authorities to judge her, these religious leaders had brought her to Jesus.  In reality, He had no legal authority to pronounce any sort of judgment on this woman.  Although He was the Judge of the universe, while He was upon the earth, He was a preacher and a teacher, not a civil judge.

Yet, after the Scribes and Pharisees walked away, this woman waited to see what Jesus would do with her.  It was as if she had recognized Him as some sort of authority and she was waiting for His judgment.

Notice carefully how she addressed Jesus in verse 11, “She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.’”  She called him “Lord.”  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.’

While the convicting power of God

Drove the accusers away,

It drew the woman came closer.

Standing before the one man who had no sin, and could have justifiably thrown that first stone, this woman stood still, “and there by faith, she received her sight”, and . . .

Saw in Jesus someone who could

Do something about

Her sin and her sentence.

In this transforming meeting with the Savior, notice not only what she recognized about Him, but notice also . . .

What She Received From Him.

Verses 10-11 tell us, “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”  This woman had been . . .

Thrust before Jesus as a guilty,

Condemned adulteress.

She walked away from Jesus

Forgiven and freed

From her condemnation.

Jesus gave her two life-changing things – a pardon, and a plan.  Notice, He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you …”  Though He could have justifiably called for her death, and as the sinless Son of God, could have taken her life Himself, Jesus spared her from punishment.

Jesus had already told Nicodemus in John 3:17, “For God did not end His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Now, He not only declares that she can be pardoned, but that He reveals God’s plan that God wanted her to live by.  He said, “…go, and sin no more.”

Jesus offered her

A new life,

And

A new road.

He gave her

A plan for holiness.

There are some who live their life in the shadows of guilt and shame.  They feel as if the sunshine of God’s love hides itself from them because of the marks of their sin.  For those people, this story in John 8 serves as an encouragement.  Jesus is not interested in condemning you any further.  If you feel the burning shame and guilt of your sin, then He is ready to forgive you if you will just look to Him.  The old accuser may say you are guilty, and you are.  But Jesus knows how to answer the accuser.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Why Do You Worry?

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

4Aug  In Luke chapter 12, beginning in verse 22, Jesus warns us against worrying about the necessities of life.  He says, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.”  In order to curb our worries about these day-to-day essentials, like food and clothing, the Lord points us to the ravens and the lilies.  In verse 24, He says, “Consider the ravens…”  Then in verse 27, He says, “Consider the lilies…”   Through this simple yet powerful lesson, the Lord Jesus shows us what the birds and blossoms have to do with our cupboards and closets.

As we study this passage, there are three things our Lord gives us. First of all, notice with me:

1) THE PRINCIPLE OUR LORD GIVES US.

Verse 22 says, “And He said unto His disciples, ‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.’” 

In verse 22, the Lord mentions two of the most simple and basic needs of human life.

While the Lord addresses the simple needs of food and clothes, the point of this text is something much more significant than dinner and dress.  The Lord is dealing with issue of worry.

The primary principle behind this passage is that . . .

We should not worry about the

Necessities and requirements of life.

Notice a couple of things about this principle our Lord gives us.  First, He says to us:

Don’t Be Disturbed About The Supply Of Life’s Needs.

The word “thought” is an interesting choice that the Lord uses.

It speaks of being divided or distracted.

Jesus is not saying that

We should never think about

Necessities like food and clothes.

What He is saying is that

These sorts of needs should not

Worry us to the point of distracting us

Or dividing or tearing us apart.

Most of us know the feeling of staring at a stack of bills and not having a stack of money to match it.  Most of us can relate to the strain that can often come, even from life’s most basic demands.  In those moments, when our supply doesn’t meet the demand, the Lord says that we should not let that deficit tear us apart.  We should not be disturbed about the question of how our needs are going to be supplied.

Notice something else we draw from this principle our Lord gives us in this text.  He not only tells us, don’t be disturbed about the supply of life’s needs, but also . . .

Don’t Be Deceived About The Significance Of Life’s Needs.

Verse 23 says, “The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.”  In other words . . .

A man’s life is not defined

By what he eats

And what he wears.

You cannot judge

The character and quality

Of a man’s life by looking

In his cupboard and his closet.

Even though we live in a materialistic society, where wealth and success are often glorified, surely you understand the point Jesus is making.  Just because a man eats in the finest restaurants, and wears the most expensive, designer clothes, that does not mean that his life is good, or that his life is more valuable than that of the man who eats Hamburger Helper, and wears clothes from Wal-Mart.

The principle our lord sets forth in this text is absolutely correct, because . . .

It is possible for a man

To have a full stomach,

And

Still have an empty heart.

You can put a thousand dollar suit on a dead man, and he will still be dead.

Notice not only the principle our Lord gives us, but notice also secondly:

2) THE PICTURE OUR LORD GIVES US.

As Jesus walked the ancient roads of Palestine . . .

He saw more than mountains and

Meadows, creeks and creatures.

He saw in nature object

Lessons about His Father.

To Him, all creation

Pointed to the Creator.

In our text, twice our Lord points us to spiritual pictures that are to be found in the most common points of nature.  In verse 24, Jesus said, “Consider the ravens…” Then in verse 27, He said, “Consider the lilies…”  The word “consider” literally means “to contemplate something, or to study and observe something in order to learn from it.”

Jesus uses the picture of birds and blossoms

In order teach us a lesson about God’s care.

Notice a couple of truths we draw from these pictures. Notice first of all . . .

God’s Care For The Birds.

In verse 24 Jesus says, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls?”  The Lord says, “Observe the birds. They don’t plant crops.  They don’t harvest wheat or corn.  They don’t have granaries and silos full of food, and yet your heavenly Father sees to it that they find the sustenance they need to live.”  You will never hear a bird sing about is a grocery bill.  Birds never chirp about where they are going to find worms and insects.

The Lord points us to God’s care for the birds

In order to encourage us about His care for us.

If He is big enough to feed all the birds,

Then He is certainly able

To supply our most basic needs.

Notice not only that the Lord gives us a picture of God’s care for the birds, but notice also further, He points us to:

God’s Care For The Blossoms.

Verse 27 states, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  No doubt, as the Lord taught His disciples that day, He pointed down to some of the many wildflowers that grew throughout that region.

There were several different types of lilies that grew throughout the year in Palestine, and they varied in color from white, to gold, to red.  Someone has described them as being “indescribably lovely.”  Jesus pointed to these flowers and said, “Look at these plants, wearing these beautiful, colorful petals.  They didn’t spin and sew these garments.  They didn’t work to create their own clothes.  Yet, your heavenly Father has outfitted them with robes more glorious than King Solomon’s finest royal attire.”

The point the Lord was making was

That if God takes the initiative to clothe

The flowers of the field,

Why should you and I worry about

Having something to put on our bodies.

Notice a final thing our Lord gives us in this text.  Notice not only the principle our Lord gives us, and the picture our Lord gives us, but notice also thirdly:

3) THE PROMISE OUR LORD GIVES US.

In this text, our Lord asks two rhetorical questions that point us to the promise that comes with our relationship to God.  In verse 24 He asks, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls?”  In verse 28 He asks, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?”

When a person receives Christ, and is saved by grace, they are adopted into the family of God.  The God of Heaven becomes their Father, and with that relationship, there comes certain promises.

The Lord Jesus reminds us of a couple of truths regarding God’s promise to us.  Notice first of all that . . .

We Are Important To Our Father.

After Jesus described how God feeds the birds, He asked this question, “…how much more are you better than the fowls?”  The implication is that while God does care about the birds, and so much so that He sees to it that they are fed, His care for us is even greater than that of the birds.

We often talk about the importance of God in our lives.

Have you ever considered your importance to God?

Have you ever thought about how much you mean to Him?

Do you want to know how important you are to your Father?

Look at the cross!  There God’s surpassing love for man

Was demonstrated as He gave up His own Son.

In this passage, the Lord reminds us of God’s love for us, and promises us that we are important to Him.  Notice also, the Lord promises us that . . .

We Are Insured By Our Father.

Verse 28 says, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Look again at verse 28, and notice the truth our Lord lays out.  He says, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

The point is that . . .

If God will care for the flowers,

Then surely, as our Father,

He will care for us as well.

We are insured by the fact

That we belong to the Father.

Why should you worry about necessities of this life?  Why should be anxious over the things you must have in order to make it?  If you belong to God, then your Heavenly Father has promised to take care of you.  You are guaranteed and insured by your relationship to God.

Jennifer Katherine Gates is a twelve year-old girl currently living in Medina, Washington. Jennifer is not your typical little girl, however, because her dad happens to be Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and a man who was estimated at one time to be worth over $100 billion.  Can you ever imagine young Jennifer worrying over her lunch money, or how she would get a new dress?

Do you realize that it is just as ridiculous for a Christian to worry about the necessities of life?  Our heavenly Father is richer than Bill Gates could ever imagine.  The Lord reminds us that our relationship to God insures that we will never be without the things we need.  Our Father will care for us!

The issue the Lord is tackling in this text is the sin of worry.  Someone once said . . .

“Worry is not a trivial sin,

 Because it strikes a blow at both

 God’s love and at God’s integrity.

 Worry declares our heavenly Father

 To be untrustworthy in

 His Word and His promises.”

The Lord points us to the birds and blossoms in order to comfort us about our cupboards and closets.  We can trust in the provision of a good God.  Those that know Christ, and have been born again into the family of God need not worry about life’s demands.  The Father knows you have need of these things, and He promises to provide.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Why Do We Seek Jesus?

Grace For The Journey

3Aug  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 797,500 children were reported missing in a single year.  Some 200,000 of those were abducted by someone within their family. 58,000 of them were abducted by someone outside of their family.

In our text today, in Luke 2:49, the Jesus raised the question we will look at today, “Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  As we look at Luke chapter two today, we find a story involving a missing child.  The child in question was not just any child, however. This missing child was none other than the young child Jesus.

As you read this interesting story, you realize that even though Mary and Joseph could not find Him, the Lord Jesus wasn’t really lost at all.  He was safe and secure in His Father’s house.  This particular passage is one of the most intriguing and important texts in the New Testament.  It is significant for a couple of reasons.

  • In this text, we have the first recorded words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus.
  • This story gives us our only glimpse into the life of our Lord prior to the beginning of His ministry at 30 years of age.

The story itself has in it some wonderful lessons for those, who like Mary and Joseph find the Lord Jesus missing from their lives.  There are times when we assume we are near the Lord, only to find that we have left Him at some point in our journey.

As we examine this story, there are three truths we draw from it that help us to find Him when we find Him missing.  First of all, there is a truth here that deals with the issue of:

 1) LEAVING WITHOUT THE LORD.

I read a story once about a couple that were standing in line at the airport getting ready to fly out on vacation, when the husband said, “I wish I had brought the piano.” The wife said, “The piano? Why do we need the piano?” The husband said, “We don’t. But our tickets are on the piano.”  As we go through life, there are times that we set out on our path and forget the most important thing.  That was certainly the case with Mary and Joseph in Luke 2.  The whole family had visited the great city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Luke tells us in verse 43, “When they had finished the days, as they returned; the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.  And Joseph and His mother did not know it.”

Joseph and Mary left without their son.  In so doing, they remind us of those who venture out in life without the presence of the Lord going with them.  Notice a couple of things we learn from Mary and Joseph about leaving without the Lord Jesus . . .

Their Supposition.

Verse 44 says, “But supposing Him to have been in the company . . .”  It is likely that the family had traveled in a large caravan of people from Nazareth, and Mary and Joseph just assumed that their Son was somewhere with the group.

Mary and Joseph remind us of the danger of supposition and assumption when it comes to the Christian life.  It is dangerous to assume and suppose things about the Lord Jesus.

The Christian life is not lived

Based upon suppositions,

But rather upon convictions.

We live for the Lord,

And walk with Him

Based upon what

We know to be true;

Not what we assume.

There are many that assume and suppose that because they attend church regularly, the Lord is therefore with them.  Others assume and suppose that because their morality is a step above their neighbor’s, it is somehow an evidence of a right relationship with God.  Don’t just suppose He is in the company of your home, simply because you call yourself a Christian.  You can attend church, and still raise a pagan family.  Don’t assume Christ is present and active in your life.

Notice something else we draw from Mary and Joseph, and their leaving without the Lord Jesus. Notice not only their supposition, but notice also further:

Their Separation.

Because Mary and Joseph did not make sure their Son was with them, they traveled an entire day’s journey, separated from the presence of the Lord.  There is a very interesting principle illustrated in this scene. What we have here is . . .

A picture of the difference

Between

Relationship and fellowship.

Though they were separated by distance, Jesus was still Mary’s Son.  The relationship was intact.  However, she could not speak to Him.  She could not hear His voice.  She could not touch Him.  Was there a relationship?  Yes.  Was there fellowship?  No.

In much the same way, we as believers can set out in the journey of life, assuming the Lord Jesus is with us, only to find out that somewhere we have left Him.  He is still our Savior.  We are still Christians.  The relationship has not changed.  However, we cannot communicate with Him as we once did.  We do not hear His voice or sense His touch as we had when we were close to Him.

Was there a time when you walked with the Lord every day?  You read His Word and talked with Him in prayer.  Now, it has been weeks, months, or even years since you were truly close to Him.  There is a separation.  You have a relationship with Christ; but no fellowship.

I don’t think that most Christians intend to leave without the Lord Jesus.  However, like Mary and Joseph, through negligence and supposition they find themselves separated from Him, and though they still have a relationship with Him, they are far from having fellowship with Him.

Notice another truth we see in this story.  There is not only something here dealing with the issue of leaving without the Lord Jesus, but we find also secondly, something about . . .

2) LOOKING FOR THE LORD.

The later part of verse 44 says, “… they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.”  Mary and Joseph still assumed Jesus was somewhere in the group, but when they hadn’t seen or heard from him in a while, they began to look for Him.

Perhaps like Mary and Joseph, you have been traveling along in life, assuming everything is alright between you and the Lord, but right now you realize that you haven’t heard His voice in a while.  You haven’t sensed His presence for some time. Perhaps, like Mary and Joseph, you are beginning to wonder where He is.

From this passage, we learn that looking for the Lord Jesus involves a couple of things. First of all . . .

It Involves a Review.

Mary and Joseph had assumed that their Son was somewhere in the group with which they were traveling.  When they begin to wonder about Him, they immediately checked among their fellow travelers to find out if what they had assumed was true.

May I say to you, if it has been a while since you felt the presence of the Lord in your life, perhaps like Mary and Joseph, you need to review your situation, and see if everything is right with your Lord.  There is wisdom in frequently and honestly evaluating the condition of your spiritual life.  Taking account of your spiritual condition and the health of your relationship to the Lord is critical.

You may assume and suppose that you are where you need to be in your relationship with Christ, but like Mary and Joseph, as you begin to look for Him, you may find that you are farther away than you had ever imagined.

Notice something else we find here about looking for the Lord.  Not only does looking for Jesus involve a review, but also . . .

It Involves a Return.

Verse 45 states, “So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”  What sad words!  They searched for Him, but He was not where they had supposed him to be.

What do you do when you can’t find Jesus  in your life?  What do you do when you realize that somewhere you have left the Lord Jesus?  The answer is found in that same verse.  The Bible says, “So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”  There it is.  You will find Him where you left Him; where you lost Him.  He will be in the last place in which you communed with Him and had contact with Him.

When you find Him missing, go back to the last place He spoke to you, and you will likely find Him there.  Recall and return to the place where you last felt His touch, and sensed His presence, and there you will doubtless find Him.  Maybe it was an altar where you made a commitment to Him. Maybe it was the chair in your home where you used to sit down with His Word and commune with Him.  Mary and Joseph had left Him in Jerusalem. When they realized where they had left Him, they returned to that place.

The Bible says in Revelation 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”

Notice another truth we draw from this story.  We learn something not only about leaving without the Lord Jesus, and looking for the Lord Jesus, but notice with me also something about . . .

3) LEARNING FROM THE LORD.

Luke tells us in verse 48 that when Mary and Joseph found the son they had left behind, Mary said to Him, “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us?  Look Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”  In her panicked state, Mary tried to correct her Son, but instead of teaching Him, she got a lesson herself.  The Lord Jesus looked at her and said, “Why have you been searching for me?  Didn’t you know that I would be involved in the things of my Father?”

In the Lord’s subtle rebuke, we find a couple of lessons for our own lives. First of all, there is a lesson to be found in . . .

Where He Is Discovered.

Verse 46 says, “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”  If you are looking for the Lord Jesus, where are you more likely to find Him than in the House of God?  You are certainly more likely to find the Lord Jesus in church than you are on the lake, at the ball field, or beside your bed.

I don’t want to over-stress this particular point, but those who are searching for the Lord Jesus, and trying to restore fellowship with Him ought to attend the services where He is worshiped, and therefore is likely to be present.  We live in a day in which church attendance is in rapid decline, and increasingly people put less importance upon being faithful to church.

If you are looking for the Lord Jesus, get your Bible and go to church.  The house of God is always a good place to find the Son of God.  He is more likely to be found among His people than in any other place.

Notice another lesson we learn from the Lord Jesus and His answer to Mary.  We learn something not only from where he was discovered, but we also learn a lesson from . . .

What He Was Doing.

We read in verse 49 that the adolescent Jesus, no less divine than when He hung on the cross, looked at His mother and said, “… Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  Obviously, Jesus wasn’t referring to Joseph, and the work of carpentry.  The Lord Jesus was referring to His heavenly Father, and the business of spiritual things.

When they found the Lord Jesus, He was not only in the Temple, but He was involved in the work of His Father.  If you want to get close to the Lord Jesus, and stay in His presence, then spend your life involved in His work.

Those who love the Lord Jesus,

Will love what He loves as well.

To be with Him, is to be about

The business of His Father.

A little girl who lost her doll.  Her dad didn’t care about the doll, but loved the one who did.  We may not love everyone like we should, but we should love them because we love the One who does.  In Psalm 51, David records the heartfelt confession of his sin.  He admits his rebellion and failure, and in verse 12 of that Psalm, David says, “Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation …”  David did not ask that his salvation be restored, but that the “joy” of his salvation be returned.  Mary and Joseph had not lost their role as parents, but for those few moments when they were separated from their son, the joy of being parents was replaced by the agony of finding their only Son missing.

There are times when Christians realize that somewhere, and some point, they have let something come between them and their Lord.  They have left without their Savior, and now as they look for Him in their lives, they find Him missing.  For those souls, Mary and Joseph offer a wonderful example.

Go back to where you left Him.  Return to that place of closeness and communion and you will surely find Him again.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Where Does Your Faith Lead?

Grace For The Journey

31JulyIn today’s text, ten lepers are healed, but only one returns to give the Lord Jesus the proper thanks for His healing touch upon them.   When this lepers returns to express his joy and gratitude for the healing he received from Jesus, the Lord asks two questions:

“Were there not ten cleansed?”

“Where are the nine?”

If you figure it out percentage wise, only one out of ten, or 10% came back to thank the Lord Jesus for what He had done.  Let’s not be guilty of being part of that 90% who do not give Him thanks and glory due His name.

The subject of Luke14 chapter is faith.

The issue is not

The size of our faith

But the

Sequence that faith takes

Us through in our lives.

If we have genuine faith, it will lead us to do three things . . .

1) True Faith Leads Us To Gain A Proper Knowledge Of Our Spiritual Condition.

Notice . . .

The Condition Of These Men.

  • They Were Diseased.

 Luke 17:12 says, “And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers …”  Leprosy pictures sin in a person’s life or an individual before salvation.

  • They Were defiled.

The later part of verse 21 says, “… which stood afar off:”  Lepers had to cry out Unclean in the presence of others in order that they might be warned of defilement.  The Bible says in Leviticus 13:3, “And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.  In Leviticus 13:45-46 the Bible also says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.  All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”

  • They Were Distanced.

No one wanted anything to do with a leper.  The Law of Moses required lepers to keep their distance.  Leviticus 13:45-46 says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.  All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

The legal distance which these unfortunates were compelled to keep from passers-by was a hundred paces.

We too, before salvation are a far off from God.  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:11-13, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh” … “that at that time you were without Christ” … having no hope and without God in the world” … “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

  • They Were Denied.

 A leper was not able to take part in public worship due to the fact that he was defiled and might infect others.  A person’s sins must be forgiven before he or she can truly worship God.  We all need to see ourselves as these lepers did.  They were unclean before God and man.  Leprosy, a dreaded skin disease, is a picture of sin (Luke 14:14,17).  Leviticus 13:38-46 & Numbers 5:2-4 tell us that there were severe physical and social consequences of leprosy.  One historian stated, “Lepers were treated as if they were, in effect, dead men” (Ephesians 2:1).

  • What They Declared.

The first step of faith is to acknowledge our desperate condition before God.  We all need to do what these lepers did . . .

Call out to Jesus

The Master

For mercy.

 Jesus will never turn a deaf ear to a cry like that!

These men knew Jesus by name, but they also called Him Master, acknowledging His authority.  Luke is the only gospel to use this word in addressing Jesus, and every other time it is used by the disciples.  In uttering this cry, these lepers take their proper place under the Lord Jesus’ sovereign authority.  We must put Him in His proper place as Lord and Master when we come to Him.

The lepers pleaded, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Mercy, like grace, is God’s undeserved favor.

Grace is getting what we do not deserve;

Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Mercy also contains the thought of compassion in view of the sufferer’s pitiable condition.  By crying out for mercy, these men were acknowledging that they did not deserve healing.  They weren’t claiming, “We are lepers, but we are pretty good lepers. We think we’re worthy of being healed.”  They knew that there was nothing in themselves to earn healing or to commend them above others.  This is the only way that we can come to God for deliverance from the leprosy of sin . . .

To acknowledge that we deserve

To be separated from God,

But to appeal to His great mercy.

The good news is that God delights in showing mercy to those who cry out for it!  The Bible says in Romans 10:12-13 that He is, “abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When Moses asked to see God’s glory, in Exodus 34:6-7 the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

God’s holiness demands

That He judge sin,

But His mercy

Is the predominant

And leading attribute.

Whatever your need, call out to the Lord. He is full of mercy.

2) True Faith Leads To Experiencing God’s Power For Spiritual Healing.

We all need to respond as these lepers responded: with obedient faith.  Without any

evidence of healing, Jesus commands the lepers to show themselves to the priests.

We can image the conversation they had.  Nine missed the greatest miracle.  The nine

got what they wanted, but they went no farther (Verse 19).

In this, their situation was similar to that of Naaman the Syrian, whom Elisha told to go and bathe in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-15).  It was a test of faith for them to go without any evidence of healing.  We are not told whether the ten lepers had a debate about whether or not to go.  I can well imagine talking among themselves, “We’ll look like fools if we show up before the priest in our present condition!”“Yes, but we’ve got nothing to lose; this is our only hope.  But it hurts to walk on these leprous feet!  I know, but if we do what He says, maybe we’ll be healed” …  “This isn’t the way He healed the other lepers.  Why doesn’t He heal us in the same way?” … “I don’t know, but we must obey.” 

Maybe they didn’t have any such debate, since the text doesn’t record any, but at any rate, it says, “as they were going, they were cleansed.”  I don’t know if it happened to all of them at the same instant, or if first one and then another got healed.  But, suddenly by the Lord’s power, they all were restored to perfect health.  If they had lost fingers and toes, they were restored.  All of the devastating effects of this terrible disease were erased.  It must have been a marvelous experience!

As I’ll argue in a moment, I believe that only the man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was saved spiritually.  But, in spite of that, the cleansing of these lepers pictures what God does to the souls of those who call out to Him for salvation. He instantly cleanses us from all our sins.  He clothes us with the perfect righteousness of Jesus.  He restores and heals our souls.  The only condition to receive God’s healing for our leprous souls is that we take Him at His word, that whoever believes in His Son Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Just as these lepers

Did not first try to clean up

And make themselves presentable,

So we are to come

To Jesus just as we are.

Just as these lepers

Did not just believe intellectually,

But had a faith that

Obeyed Jesus’ word,

So we must exercise personal

Obedient faith in Him

With regard to His promise

To save us from our sins.

But even though in one sense all ten lepers illustrate saving faith, in that they took Jesus at His word and acted upon it personally, in another sense the nine fell short of saving faith.  The nine got what they wanted from God in terms of healed bodies, but they went no farther.  They never returned to Jesus to receive salvation of their souls. They received the temporal benefit of healed bodies, but it is only to the one thankful leper who returned that our Lord proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you” [literal, 17:19]. In the same way, it is possible to receive special blessings from God in answer to prayer, such as a healing from a serious illness, and yet to fall short of the best blessing of all.  Thus . . .

When we realize that God

Has blessed us with

Some temporal blessing,

We must not become satisfied

With that and stop there.

3) True Faith Leads Us To Glorify God.

 We all should respond as the one leper did . . .

Glorify God

At the feet of Jesus

With thankful hearts.

The thankful leper represents

The full fruit of saving faith –

Giving joyful thanks to His name.

This leper’s praise was heartfelt – Verse 15.  He glorified God “with a loud voice” (17:15).  If before his voice had been hampered by leprosy, it was freed up now and he exercised it with full force!  Others may have been embarrassed by his exuberance, but he didn’t care!  Jesus had healed him, and he was going to make it known!  This leper’s glad praise should be that of every person whose heart has been healed by Jesus’ mighty power.

Twice it is mentioned that the man glorified God (17:15, 18).  To glorify God is . . .

To extol His attributes

And His actions.

It is to exalt Him,

To let others know

How great He is.

As the Puritans rightly stated, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever on account of His blessings of salvation toward us who deserved His judgment.”

C. H. Spurgeon points out that “while ten men prayed to Jesus, only one praised and thanked Jesus.”  Sadly, here are far more who are prone to pray in a time of need than to praise God when He meets that need.  Oswald Chambers observed, “The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult.  Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”  

If the Lord has delivered

Our souls from judgment,

We ought to let others

Know about it.

I have to remind myself that “Praise the Lord” is not just a slogan or something nice to do; it is a command.  If my life is not marked by frequent praise to God for His many blessings, I am not being obedient.  While prayer will last for this life only, praise will continue throughout eternity.  Those who have experienced Jesus’ cleansing power should glorify Him.

Notice now that he is bowing “at Jesus’ feet.”  Before the man had to keep his distance

from Jesus because of his disease, now he comes up near to Him and falls on his face at Jesus’ feet.  I doubt if he understood the deity of Jesus, but nonetheless, he took the proper place of worship at Jesus’ feet.  Jesus said in John 5:23, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  We cannot properly glorify God if we do not fall in adoration at Jesus’ feet.  He is the eternal God who willingly left the glory of heaven to come to this sinful earth and suffer and die for us. We must spend much time at His feet.

The man’s position on his face at Jesus’ feet also shows the proper attitude of humility that should characterize those who have been healed by His mercy. We owe everything to Him and can claim nothing as coming from ourselves. This leper wasn’t maintaining his dignity and self-esteem.

He wasn’t claiming,

“Jesus did His part,

But I did my part.”

He knew that he

Had been healed

Totally because

Of Jesus’ mercy,

And so he readily

Fell on his face

At Jesus’ feet.

That’s where every saved person should camp out!

Noticed he did it with a thankful heart – The leper was “giving thanks to Him” (17:16). The Masai tribe in West Africa has an unusual way of saying thank you: They bow, put their forehead on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”  Another African tribe expresses gratitude by sitting for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and saying, literally, “I sit on the ground before you.”  These Africans understand . . .

What thanksgiving is and

Why it’s difficult for us:

At its core,

Thanksgiving is

An act of humility.

It acknowledges our

Debt to the other person.

Clearly, Jesus was pleased with his expression of thanks and grieved at the absence of the other nine (17:17-18).  Hebrews 13:15-16 states, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Every day we should be filled with gratitude for all that the Savior did for us when we were spiritual lepers before Him.

Thirteen years before his conversion, John Wesley had a conversation late one night with the porter of his college that deeply impressed him and convinced him that there was more to Christianity than he had found.  Wesley discovered that the man had only one coat and that nothing had passed his lips that day, except a drink of water, and yet his heart was full of gratitude to God. Wesley said, “You thank God when you have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and no bed to lie upon. What else do you thank him for?”  The porter answered, “I thank him that He has given me my life and being, and a heart to love Him, and a desire to serve Him.”

Even so, if we who have known Jesus’ saving healing power in our souls will live each day to glorify Him with thankful hearts, others will be drawn to the Savior to find mercy for their souls.

Let’s all learn from this exuberant and thankful leper how to respond to God’s blessings, especially to the blessing of salvation.  We should join him in glorifying God at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts.

How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord?  Genuine faith will lead us to respond with overflowing gratitude and thanksgiving for what God is doing.

Four times the psalmist cries out, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8,15,21,31).  May our faith create the same response in our hearts.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Will You Lay Down Your Life For My Sake?

Grace For The Journey

30July  The United States has the highest occurrence of tornadoes of any other nation in the world.  In an average year, over 1,000 tornadoes will occur across the continental U.S.

Along with the damage they cause, tornadoes are dangerous because they can be somewhat unpredictable.

At the close of John chapter 13, the Lord Jesus makes a very somber forecast for the life of Simon Peter.  In verse 37, Peter had boldly and brashly proclaimed that he would lay down his life for Jesus.  In verse 38, Jesus repeated that claim, this time in the form of a question.  Then he pronounced a forecast of failure in Peter’s life.  He said, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily, verily, I say unto you, the rooster shall not crow, till you have denied Me three times.”

Within a few hours of that forecast . . .

Peter’s boldness would be

Replaced by brokenness.

The Bible says that Peter “wept bitterly” because he had cursed and denied that even knew the Lord Jesus.

From this passage, we learn that this type of failure is not without its predictors.  There are certain traits and signs that we can see in Peter that point to the failure for which he was headed.  By studying Peter’s words in this text, perhaps we can learn that we could be headed for a similar failure in our own Christian life.  By learning from the failure in Peter’s life, someone can spare themselves from the bitter tears of regret.

Notice . . .

1) PETER’S FUTILE ARGUMENT.

John 13 is a chapter full of instruction.  It records the final evening that the Lord shared with His disciples prior to His arrest and crucifixion, and it is full of parting words and directions from the Savior.  Trying to prepare His disciples for His coming death, the Lord says to them in verse 33, “Little children, I shall be with you a little while lnger.  You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “’Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.”  Not content with the information he was given, Peter asks in verse 36, “Lord, where are You going?”  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”  As usual, Peter’s mouth is not easily closed, and in verse 37 he protests and asks, “Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.”

There are times when, like Peter, we are resistant and even rebellious against the work of the Lord in our lives.  The problem is that our stubbornness often leads to our sinfulness.  Notice what was going on with Peter and his futile argument.  Notice first of all . . .

The Message He Disregarded.

In verse 33, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be leaving them.  He then moved from that announcement to the instructions He wanted to leave with them before His death.  In verse 34, Jesus said to them, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  In verse 35 . . .

He goes on to tell them that

Their love for one another

Is what would reveal to the world

That they were in fact His disciples.

In the context of this conversation, this is the main point the Lord was trying to convey to His disciples.  Yet, Peter completely misses this point, and goes back to the statement the Lord had made about leaving.  In verse 36, we read, “Simon Peter said unto him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going You cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”

There are some people who resist the work of Christ in their life because they have missed the larger point of what He is trying to do in them.  For instance . . .

  • There are people who will not tithe because they don’t like to part with their money, but they have missed the fact that the Bible teaches that it is not really their money in the first place.
  • There are those who won’t attend church faithfully because they don’t feel like they have to. All the while, they have missed the message that attending church is not something we have to do; it is something we should want to do.

Peter argues with the Lord because he had disregarded the primary message that Jesus was trying to convey.  Notice something else that is going on in this futile argument.  Notice not only the message he disregarded, but notice also further . . .

The Message He Disliked.

The real reason why Peter argued with the Lord in this text is that he did not like what he had heard.  The Lord told the disciples that He was going to be leaving, and that they would not be able to accompany Him.  In verse 37, Peter protested, “Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.’”  Even though the Lord had said it, it didn’t sit well with Peter, and he disliked the message Christ had given him.

Many people are resistant and stubborn about the Lord’s work in their lives simply because of what He has said to them, and what He has asked of them, is not easy or enjoyable.

Notice a second truth that points to the forecast of failure in Peter’s life.  Notice not only Peter’s futile argument, but notice also secondly:

2) PETER’S FOOLISH ARROGANCE.

Peter was the Apostle with “the foot-shaped mouth.”  He was, eager, aggressive, bold, and outspoken – with a habit of racing his mouth while his brain was in neutral.  I would say that most of us relate more easily to Peter, than to any of the other apostles.  We see his flaws and his failures and his imperfections in our own lives.

Notice a couple of things about Peter’s pride . . .

His Misplaced Confidence.

Jesus said to Peter, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me yet.” Peter boastfully responded in verse 37, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”  Jesus said, “You can’t,” but Peter said, “I will.”  Peter believed that his devotion and faith were strong enough that if it came to it, not even death would part him from his Master.

It turned out, however, that the interrogation of a little girl was enough to send the once arrogant disciple into a foul-mouthed, full-fledged denial of His Lord.

Peter was confident in himself,

And self-confidence,

According to the Word of God,

Is always misplaced confidence.

Notice something else about Peter’s foolish arrogance.

His Misguided Commitment.

The Lord had been telling His disciples about His coming death.  He was preparing them for the crises through which they were about to go.  Peter’s intentions were sincere, but they were contrary to the will of God.  He was foolishly arrogant to think that his plan was somehow better than God’s.  He warns us against stubbornly and arrogantly resisting God’s will in our lives.

There is a third predictor of Peter’s failure that we find in this text. Notice not only Peter’s futile argument, and Peter’s foolish arrogance, but notice also thirdly . . .

3) PETER’S FEEBLE ABILITIES.

Peter felt as if he was able to stand for Christ, regardless of the dangers it would bring. Jesus revealed the truth about Peter’s abilities when He said in verse 38, ill you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily I say to you, the rooster shall not crow til you have denied Me three times.”  Though Peter promised a big stand for Christ, the reality is that he was not ready to be the man he claimed to be.  His failure was due to the feebleness of his abilities.

Notice a couple of things about Peter’s feeble abilities . . .

He Was Not Bold Enough.

Peter sounds so valiant and courageous when he says, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.”  

The only problem is that

Not only was Peter not bold

Enough to die for Jesus,

He was not even bold

Enough to defend Jesus.

He slinked along behind the crowd, watching as Jesus was unjustly taken and tried.  When the little girl by the fire said, “You are one of His followers, aren’t you,” Peter’s courage wasn’t even sufficient to claim Jesus, much less rescue Him.  The reality is that Peter had the wrong kind of boldness.  His boldness on Passover night was a courage bolstered by his own arrogance.

Before his failure, Peter wasn’t bold enough. His confidence before his failure was a self-confidence, and it was never enough to stand in a spiritual battle.  Peter’s insufficient boldness warns us about having the wrong kind of courage.

Notice something further about Peter’s feeble abilities . . .

He Was Not Broken Enough.

As long as Peter thought he was able

To do something for Christ,

He would never be able

To do anything for Christ.

Peter had not come to

The point of brokenness,

Where he realized that he was

Totally dependent upon the Lord.

God uses broken things.  Job eased his bodily pain with broken pieces of pottery. Mary broke her alabaster box, and used its contents to minister to Christ.  Paul and his companions escaped from the sea on the broken pieces of a ship.  Peter was eventually used by God in a mighty way, but only after his self-confident, over-bearing will had been broken by the shame and regret of his sinful failure.

The same Peter, whose pride and arrogance led him to such a devastating fall, would one day write these words in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

Those are the words of a man speaking from experience.

Peter learned the hard way

That if we do not submit

Ourselves completely to God,

We are setting ourselves up for failure.

May the story of Peter’s failure cause us all to examine ourselves, and to look to God to keep us from falling.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Who Is Greater?

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

29July  In Luke 22, at the table of the Last Supper, the disciples began to bicker about which one of them was the greatest.  Hearing their silly argument, Jesus took the opportunity to teach them that true greatness, at least in the Kingdom of God, belongs to those who serve.  In verse 27, Jesus posed a question to His disciples. He asked them, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves …?”  That’s a good question.

Jesus teaches us that in the Christian life, it is always better to serve than to be served.

There are three truths we find in this passage that help us to see the greatness that can only come by being a servant.  Notice first of all, in this passage that . . .

1) JESUS EXAMINES THE CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE.

Most of the teachings of Jesus run completely counter to this world’s way of thinking.

For instance, Jesus taught that you should . . .

  • Love your enemies,
  • Bless them that curse you,
  • Be glad about persecution.

Those kinds of concepts are in direct opposition to a world that says . . .

  • Enemies are to be attacked,
  • Curses are to be matched,
  • Persecution is to be avoided at all cost.

In our text, in order to show how differently the world operates from the kingdom of God, Jesus makes an observation about the culture of this world.  In verse 25, Jesus says, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”

Notice with me a couple of things we draw from this cultural perspective that Christ examined.  First of all that Jesus points out . . .

How the World Views Power.

In verse 25, Jesus pointed to worldly type of ruler and how they used their rule.  Notice the phrase “exercise lordship over them.”  It comes from one Greek word, and it means to “control someone.”  Jesus pointed to the kings of His day and how they used their power to control the people under them.  They “lorded over” the lives of their subjects.

According to the world, power is an opportunity for control.  If a person can get power, whether in a government or in a company, the world says that power is the perfect vehicle to control people, and tell them what to do.

History is full of examples of what our Lord referred to.  Hitler, Mussolini, Lennon, Stalin, Castro, Chairman Mao, Saddam Hussein.  These are just a few of the names of men who used power for control.  Jesus was merely pointing out a philosophy that pervades human culture. That is, if you can get power, you can use that power to make people do what you want them to do.

Notice something else Jesus pointed out as He examined the cultural perspective. Notice not only how the world views power, but also . . .

How the World Views Position.

Jesus goes on in verse 25, and says, “…they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”  This is an interesting phrase.   The word “benefactors” comes from a compound of two Greek words and it literally means “good workers.”  In other words, Jesus says that in this world’s system, those that hold positions of authority are looked up to, admired, and regarded as someone who has done something right.

We live in a world that equates position with achievement.  If a person has climbed the ladder, moved up, and succeeded, we are apt to celebrate them, even though they may have achieved their success by doing unscrupulous and unethical things.

Can you imagine working for a company among whose employees . . .

  • 29 have been accused of spousal abuse,
  • 7 have been arrested for fraud,
  • 19 have been accused of writing bad checks,
  • 117 have been involved in bankruptcies,
  • 3 have served time for assault,
  • 71 have bad credit,
  • 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges,
  • 8 have been arrested for shop-lifting,
  • 21 are currently being sued, and
  • 84 were arrested for drunk driving in one year?

What kind of company is that?  It is the United States Congress.  However, in spite of their largely “scoundrel” status, people will still gush and fawn over politicians for no other reason than the fact that they hold a position.

Jesus heard His disciples arguing over greatness, and He pointed them to the world’s perspective on power and position.  Notice a second truth . . .

2) JESUS EXPLAINS THE CHRISTIAN POSITION.

Verse 26 says, But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be s the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”  Notice the opening words of verse 26. Jesus said, “But not so among you …”  The world wants and worships power and position, but that is not supposed to be the case for the Christian.

The disciples disputed about which one of them was the greatest.  In verse 26, Jesus explained to them that greatness is measured very differently in the kingdom of God.

Jesus contrasts the Christian’s worldview with that of the culture in which they live. Notice a couple of things He reveals about the Christian’s position on greatness . . .

How the Christian Understands Achievement.

In verse 26, Jesus says, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be s the younger …”  The world says that greatness is found in climbing to a position above others where you have the power to tell them what to do. Jesus says that for the Christian . . .

Greatness does not

Come from climbing,

But from condescending.

Notice that phrase, “let him be as the younger.”  Throughout Israel, the menial and unpleasant tasks were often given to the youngest son because it would be beneath them.  Most people would think that achievement is getting to the point where you don’t have to get your hands dirty by doing the servant’s chores.  Jesus says that for the Christian, achievement comes from doing those things that nobody else wants and likes to do.

Somewhere, a wealthy CEO settles in to his favorite chair, as a employee serves him a gourmet meal.  On the other side of the world, a missionary woman cuddles an African infant, dying of AIDS, in a dirty hut, with a small plate of rice, and a bottle of powdered milk.  Which picture do you equate with success and achievement?

Our Lord says that in His kingdom,

Achievement looks more like

A missionary than it does a millionaire.

In 1745, David Brainerd was a weak, depressed, and slowly-dying missionary, sleeping in a tent in the cold forests of New England, trying to reach the Native Americans. Within two years, he would die of tuberculosis, no doubt made worse by the environment in which he ministered.  The hardship of his life did not deter him.  Brainerd wrote in 1747, “O I longed to fill the remaining moments all for God!  Though my body was so feeble … yet I wanted to sit up all night to do something for God.”

Brainerd died with very few converts from his ministry.  Some would say his life was not a success.  Yet, the countless missionaries that have been inspired by his diary and letters would certainly disagree.

Notice not only how the Christian understands achievement, but also . . .

How the Christian Uses Authority.

Verse 26 continues, “… He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger,  and he who governs as he who serves.”  Notice that phrase, “he that is chief.”  It comes from a Greek word that speaks of one that leads or rules.  The word “serve” comes from a Greek word that gives us our English word, “deacon.”  It literally means “to wait tables.”

Jesus says that in the Christian community, those that lead and have authority over the body ought to be the ones waiting the tables, and performing the acts of service.

In the Kingdom of God,

Authority and leadership

Are opportunities to serve.

For the Christian, leadership

Is not a license to give orders;

It is a chance to serve others!

During the Revolutionary War, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers trying to repair a defense barrier.  Their leader was shouting commands as the men struggled to do the job.  The man on horseback stopped and asked the leader why he wasn’t helping his men.  The man barked back, “Sir, I am a corporal!”  The stranger apologized, then dismounted his horse and proceeded to help the men fix the barrier.

As he was about to ride off, he said to the corporal, “Next time you have job like this, and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will help you again.”   The stranger was George Washington, and the corporal was embarrassed.

The Christian understands that

Achievement is measured

By the service you give,

And authority is used as a

Means of performing that service.

There is one final thing we draw from this text.  Here, not only do we find that Jesus examines the cultural perspective, and that Jesus explains the Christian’s position, but notice also thirdly that, in this text . . .

3) JESUS EXEMPLIFIES THE CORRECT PRACTICE.

Verse 27 says, “For who is greater, he that sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table?  Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”  Jesus asks a question that seems to have an obvious answer.  In essence, Jesus asks, “Which one is greater; the one sitting down and being served, or the one serving?”  Jesus knew that to the world, it would appear that the one being served was the greater of the two.  However, Jesus goes against the thinking of this world, and says in verse 27, “… Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”

Jesus had taught His disciples that

True greatness comes through service.

He did not just preach this principle.

He portrayed it with his life.

Notice a couple of things about the example our Lord gave us. Notice first of all . . .

His Selflessness.

If anyone had a right to sit down and be served, it was Jesus.  He is the God of the universe.  His Word had brought the world into existence, and His power holds it together.  Yet, we find Him setting aside His heavenly garments, leaving the praises of heaven’s choirs, and clothing Himself in the humble wrappings of a peasant, surrounded only by a few shepherds and some smelly livestock.  He left the streets of gold to walk the dusty roads of Galilee.  He left the Father’s side to eat next to the likes of Peter, Thomas, and Judas.  He descended from His Heavenly throne to be lifted up on a horrific cross in front of jeering crowds and spiteful spectators.

Men should have served Him;

But they slew Him instead.

He could have claimed the world for Himself,

But He gave Himself for the world instead.

Notice something else we find in our Lord’s example to us. Notice not only His selflessness, but notice also . . .

His Service.

In verse 26, Jesus told His disciples that the leaders in His church must be the ones who will serve.  Then in verse 27, He declared, “… Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”  Luke doesn’t record it, but John tells what happened after this discussion. John 13;4-5 says, “(Jesus) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”  Washing the feet was a necessary practice in that day, but it was one that only the slaves and servants were expected to perform.

Jesus talked to His disciples about service,

And then He demonstrated for them

The kind of work a servant would do.

A man once talked to his pastor about one of the principles he had preached about.  The man said, “It comes down to basin theology.”  The pastor was a little puzzled, and he said, “What is basin theology?”  The layman said, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?  He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing.  But Jesus, the night before His death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples.  It all comes down to basin theology. Which one will you choose?

Jesus left us a clear example of what it means to be great in His kingdom.  Those who serve are always greater than those who sit.  Jesus asked, “Which one is greater? Is it the one who is served, or the one who serves?”  For the Christian, the answer is found in the example of our Lord.  Let us serve, instead of sit.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Is It That You Want Me To Do For You?

Grace For The Journey

28July  Something remarkable happened on a crowded road just outside of the ancient city of Jericho.  A large group of people followed the Lord Jesus as he traveled toward Jerusalem.  Suddenly, the Lord stopped and was about to make available to one man the great blessings of God.  That one man was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.  He cried out to the Lord for mercy, and the Bible says that Jesus stopped, called him, and asked him this question, “What do you want Me to do for you””   

That is an amazing question.  With that question, the God of eternity put Himself at the service of a blind beggar.  Bartimaeus had never had much more than some loose change, and the rags upon his back.  Yet, at that moment the whole world was offered to him.

It is interesting to me that of all the people standing there that day; Christ asked this question to only one man – Bartimaeus.  How would you like to hear the Lord Jesus say to you today, “What can I do for you?”  As Jesus passes by in this blog, what is it that you need from Him?

How do we get the Lord to stop and offer this kind of help to us?  How can you get Him to say to you, “What is it that you want me to do for you?”  Through his memorable story Bartimaeus teaches us how we can have Christ intervene in our lives.  This question that was posed to Bartimaeus in verse 51 of our text is one that is reserved for a very specific group of people.  Notice first of all this question is for . . .

1) THOSE THAT REQUEST HIS ATTENTION.

The Bible tells us in Mark 10:46, And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.”  There was, as Mark says, “a great number of people” traveling with the Lord Jesus, however, that day outside Jericho, there was only one person that was crying out to Him.

Verse 47 says, “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. !” 

The people to whom the Lord Jesus

Makes Himself available

Are not those who

Merely surround Him,

But rather those

That earnestly seek Him.

Notice a couple of things about the way Bartimaeus sought the attention of the Lord. First of all, he cried out . . .

With Desperation.

The Bible says that he “cried.”  The Greek word translated “cried” is a word that was used to describe “the squawk or call of a raven.”  It speaks of loud scream, or a cry of anguish.  The same word is used later in Mark 15:13, where it says that the crowd, “…cried, ‘Crucify Him!’”  As Bartimaeus found out that the Lord Jesus was passing by, he didn’t offer a half-hearted, “Dear Lord, bless us, we pray.”  No, crying out as if his whole life depended on being heard, Bartimaeus screamed, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When was the last time you prayed with desperation?  Have you ever cried out to the Lord Jesus as if your whole life depended upon Him hearing you?   John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress, had a unique way with words.  Though never formally educated, Bunyan was a brilliant preacher and author.  Years ago I read a quote from Bunyan that I have never forgotten. He said, “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”

Bartimaeus wanted the Lord’s attention.  In order to get it, He cried out with desperation. Notice something else about the way He sought the Lord’s attention.  He not only cried out with desperation, but also . . .

With Determination.

The crowd that was following Jesus that day must have been a group of Baptists, because as soon as someone began to get emotional and passionate about the Lord Jesus, they told him to be quiet. Verse 48 says, “And many charged Him that he should hold his peace: but he cried all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Ignoring the crowd’s attempts to muzzle him, Bartimaeus kept crying out, Mark says, even more. He didn’t back off of his cry.  Instead, he cried with more urgency and emotion, determined to get the Savior’s attention.  Bartimeaus was determined that Jesus may pass by without stopping, but it will not be because He did not hear the beggar crying.

Have you quit crying out about your need?  Was there a time when you desperately sought the Lord about a matter, but now you hushed your prayers?  Bartimaeus was determined to cry out in spite of the discouragement he faced.  As a result, the Lord Jesus stopped, and responded to his cry.  Those who get the Lord’s attention, cry out for it with desperation and determination.

The question the Lord asked Bartimaeus is not only reserved for those that request His attention, but notice also secondly that it is only for . . .

2) THOSE THAT RECOGNIZE HIS ABILITY.

Bartimaeus sat by the road side that day as he had many days before.  Though he couldn’t see, he could tell there were a lot more people crowding the road side than usual.  Someone has said . . .

“He had no eyesight

But he had insight.”

The crowd knew the Lord only as “Jesus of Nazareth,” which referred to the place where the Lord had grown up.  Bartimaeus, on the other hand, called Jesus by the name, “Son of David.”

Bartimaeus saw more with faith

Than the rest of the crowd saw by sight.

He recognized the ability of the Lord Jesus.

Notice a couple of things Bartimaeus recognized about the Lord’s ability. He recognized His ability . . .

 To Hear.

The crowd that day tried to silence the cries of this beggar, and yet he kept crying.  It was as if he knew the Messiah would hear the cries of those in need.  Those who have the privilege of the Lord intervening in their lives are those who truly believe that when they cry out to Him, He hears them.

Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson.  Once, while sharing a meal with the president and his family, Bill was asked to say the blessing.  In the middle of his prayer, President Johnson said, “Speak up, Bill!  Speak up!”  Moyers stopped his prayer, and without looking up said, “I wasn’t addressing you, Mr. President.”

Bartimaeus not only recognized the Lord’s ability to hear, but notice also further that he recognized the Lord’s ability . . .

To Help.

In his heart, Bartimaeus believed that Jesus was the Son of David, the long awaited Messiah.  Perhaps his mind went back again to a service in the synagogue, when the Rabbi read from Isaiah 35:5, where it says that when the Messiah comes, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened…”  This blind beggar believed that Jesus Christ had the power to open his eyes!  He recognized that Jesus had the ability to help him.

What about you?  Do you really believe that Jesus Christ can help your situation?  Do you really believe that He has the ability to intervene on your behalf?

Fred Lynch is the high school boys basketball coach at Laney High School in Wilmington, NC.  He has had a long and relatively successful career at Laney, and yet, Lynch will always be remembered for a decision he made nearly thirty years ago.  Coach Lynch cut a skinny sophomore from his varsity roster.  That kid was Michael Jordan.  Obviously, at the time, Coach Lynch didn’t see all the ability that the skinny sophomore truly possessed.

I fear that many Christians do not fully realize all they have in knowing the person of Jesus Christ.  He has the ability to meet their every need, and yet they often cut Him out of their lives, and fail to call on Him with their needs.

There is a final truth we draw from this text. Christ will make Himself available not only to those that request His attention, and to those that recognize His ability, but also finally to . . .

3) THOSE THAT REQUIRE HIS ASSISTANCE.

The crowd came to a stop, because as verse 49 says, “Jesus stood still …”  He stopped, because a beggar on the side of the road was crying out, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Bartimaeus had begged for charity and panhandled for loose change, but this request was very different.

He wasn’t asking Jesus for money.

He was asking for a miracle.

Bartimaeus needed divine assistance.  Notice a couple of things about his situation that required the Lord’s intervention.  Notice first of all that . . .

He Was Unable to Alter His Situation.

Bartimaeus’ blindness was obviously not something he could fix on his own.  He was powerless against the darkness in which he lived.

Bartimaeus didn’t need more money.

He didn’t need nicer clothes,

He didn’t need a better spot

On the side of the road.

He needed God to heal his eyes.

There are times in life when we face things that we must admit are bigger than our abilities.  There are times in which we must face the fact that we cannot alter our own situation.

Do you realize that when you reach that point,

Where you are reduced to the point of

Begging God for mercy that is when

You are most likely to see

His divine intervention?

As long as you think you can fix it, you will not cry out in such a way that Jesus stands still to hear your voice.  As long as you still have a backup plan, and a last resort to fix your problem, you will not beg for mercy and therefore you will not have the Lord open Heaven’s resources for you.

The Lord Jesus stops and helps

Those who know that

He is all they have,

And all they need.

Contrary to what many think . . .

The Lord helps those

Who can’t help themselves.

Notice not only that he was unable to alter his situation, but notice also further that . . .

He Was Unwilling to Accept His Situation.

A busy road, like this one leading out of Jericho, would have attracted many of the downcast beggars of that city.  Yet, only one of them cried out to the Lord Jesus.  Only one had faith to believe that he could be healed.  Only one blind beggar saw hope in Christ.

Some of you have settled for your current situation.  You have given up hope that your need will ever be met, and you are willing to go through life with your burdens on your back.

  • You have settled for the fact that your husband will never be by your side in church.
  • You have settled for the fact that you will always be bound by that besetting sin.
  • You have settled for blindness when you could have blessing.
  • You have settled for the mediocre when you could have the miraculous.

Bartimaeus had the will not to give up, and not to accept his situation.  What about you? Do you require the Lord’s assistance, or are you settling for a life on the road side?  In verse 51, Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  As I contemplated that question, I thought, “That seems like an unnecessary question.” Surely the Lord could see that Bartimaeus was blind. nSurely, being the Son of God, He knew already the condition of the man calling His name.

As I prayed and meditated over this text, I realized that yes, the Lord knew what Bartimaeus needed, but He wanted Bartimaeus to ask anyway.  He wanted to hear him confess his need.

In much the same way, the Lord knows exactly what your need is.  Yet, if you want Him to stop and help you, then like Bartimaeus, He wants to hear you call His name, confess your faith in Him, and tell Him what it is you need from Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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For What Shall It Profit A Man?

Grace For The Journey

27July  Right now, everybody seems to be feeling the pain of a slow economy.  Well, not everybody.  At Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, it’s all profit.  In 2017, the company set another record, with $40.6 billion of net income.  That works out to a cool $1,287 of profit for every second of last year.

The Lord Jesus was not a businessman.  While He often spoke about money, He did not come to earth to make money.  While His mission was not economic, at the close of Mark chapter eight, He asked a question that dealt with the issue of profit and loss.

Through this question . . .

Christ taught that it is possible

For a man to gain and still lose.

In fact, His question implies that if a man could gain the whole world, with all its wealth, all its luxuries, and all its pleasures, and still end up a loser in the end.

The message revealed in this penetrating, insightful question is that . . .

A secure soul is more eternally valuable

Than the most profitable portfolio in the world.

If a man makes billions of dollars in profits, and yet his soul ends up in hell, his profit will be loss.  All the money in the world will not make up for a soul that is lost forever.

In Mark 8:36 the Lord Jesus asks one of His most penetrating and insightful questions. As this question is considered, there are three challenges that emerge from it.  As you read the question, these challenges must be answered in your own heart. First of all, this question . . .

 1) CHALLENGES OUR PRIORITIES.

In this question there are 2 different sets of priorities:

One involves the pursuit of worldly things;

The other involves the preservation of the soul.

What are the priorities that govern our life?

Do We Have Selfish Priorities?

Many in our day are like the little boy who was riding a wooden horse with his sister. Frustrated at her, he said, “If one of us would get off, there would be more room for me.”

Let’s be honest, and ask, “Do we live our life for the sole purpose of making our life better?”   When we evaluate what is most important in our life, do all our priorities somehow involve the improvement and benefit of ourselves?

Do We Have Spiritual Priorities?

Where do the things of God rank on our list of priorities?  How important is it to us to read the Bible?  How much time do we spend in prayer?  How faithfully do we attend church?

2) CHALLENGES OUR PERSPECTIVE.

How you look at something makes

All the difference in how you will approach it.

Someone once said that David fought Goliath because he had a different perspective. All the other soldiers looked at Goliath and said, “He’s too big to knock down.” David looked at Goliath and said, “He’s too big to miss.”

There are basically two different perspectives on life.  You are most likely living with one of these two perspectives.  Notice them both with me.  The first perspective is that:

Life Is Limited To Earth.

There are those who view this life as if this is the only journey they will ever take.  They begin at birth, and death is the final destination.  For these people, the only philosophy that makes any sense is, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  They live for the things this world has to offer, ignoring thoughts of anything beyond their last breath, and dismissing their loose behavior by saying, “Hey, you only live once.”

Life Is Lived In Eternity.

The perspective Jesus puts forth is that this life is mere preparation for the life that is to come.  This life, with its brief span and vaporous speed are but the introduction, the preface to an eternal existence.

When you truly believe that life is lived in eternity, then the temporary things of this world are not nearly as important as the things that survive into eternity.  Accumulating the treasures of this earth is not nearly as important as sending ahead treasures for heaven, when you live with an eternal perspective.

There is a third challenge to be drawn from this question. It not only challenges your priorities, and challenges your perspective, but notice also finally that this question . . .

3) CHALLENGES OUR PREPARATION.

No one, no matter how hard they may try, could ever gain the whole world.  Yet, there are many who have lost their soul.  There are two things you ought to ask yourself as you consider this text.  First of all, you ought to ask yourself this . . .

Where’s The Concern for Your Soul.

We live in a day in which people are increasingly concerned about their physical appearance and the shape of their bodies.  People pay thousands of dollars for surgical procedures to shrink this and enlarge that, all in an effort to keep up their outward appearance.

However, most people have little concern for their souls.  In many ways, they are like a person who pays thousands of dollars to have a house painted that is infested with termites. They are like a person who puts new tires and wheels on a car with a broken engine.

Charles Spurgeon, while preaching on this text in 1856 said, “Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it.”

What Is the Condition of Your Soul.

With His question in verse 36, the Lord Jesus presents the possibility of your soul being lost.  The word “lost” in this text literally means “to suffer damage.”  What is the condition of your soul?  Do you know for sure that if you have nothing else, you have security for your soul?

How can you know the condition of your soul?  A good place to start is by examining your priorities?  Are they selfish or spiritual?  What about your perspective?  Do you live as if life is limited to this earth, or are you living for the life that is to come?

The Lord Jesus measures the success of a life by very different standards than the world.  If someone were to gain the whole world, no doubt he would be considered a success.  Yet Jesus says that if there was a man who could gain the whole world, it would not be profitable to him if lost his soul.

I pray you will consider this question in our heart and in an honest way.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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 How It Is That You Do Not Understand?

Grace For The Journey

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24JulyB  Not everyone that has a brain actually uses it? For instance, I read a story about a woman that was pulled over by the police. The officer kindly asked to see the woman’s driver’s license.  She huffed a bit and said, “I wish you guys would get your act together. Just yesterday you take away my license, and today you expect me to show it to you.”  I also read about a man who went in to a pizza place and ordered a small pizza to go.  The clerk asked the man if he wanted the pizza cut into four slices, or six.  The man thought for a moment, and said, “Just cut it into four slices.  I don’t think I’m hungry enough to eat six.”

Having a brain and using it

Are two different things.

If we were honest, all of us have moments when our minds go into a coma, and we say and do things that cause the people around us shake their heads.  If you study the disciples, as they followed the Lord, there are times that their behavior causes you to wonder if the Lord had picked the right group.  Obviously, with the exception of Judas, the disciples became the foundation for the expansion and success of the Church, indicating that eventually, they got it.

However, in Mark chapter eight, there is an incident recorded in which the disciples obviously did not get it.  The Lord was trying to teach them an important spiritual lesson, but at the time they were thick-headed and blind to what was going on around them.  In response to their stupidity, the Lord hit the dense disciples with a series of indicting questions, finally asking them in verse 21, “How is that you do not understand?”  Unfortunately, the original twelve were not the only dense disciples our Lord would ever have.  Still today, there are Christians who just do not get it.  For them, the Lord’s question is still valid. “How is that you do not understand?”

By examining the disciples in this text, we are challenged to think carefully about our Christian life, and how well we understand what the Lord is doing.  Notice that the disciples . . .

 1) WERE CONCERNED WITH THE SIMPLE.

Mark chapter eight is a good snapshot of a typical day in the life of a disciple. The chapter opens with Jesus feeding a crowd of four thousand with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.  On the heels of this spectacular event, the Lord was confronted by the Pharisees, who challenged Him to perform some sort of a sign, as if His previous efforts were not sufficient.  As this typical and yet remarkable day came to a close, the Lord and His disciples boarded a boat headed to the next location.

Surely, the disciples would spend the trip contemplating and discussing the significance of the day’s events.  Certainly, they would be concerned about the Master and His work.

But instead of celebrating a wonderful day and praising the Lord notice what their concern was.  Verses 14-17 tells us, “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’  But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened? ‘”

The simple concerns of the disciples serve to remind us of how many times we are too concerned with the wrong things.  Notice a couple of things about their concerns.  Notice . . .

How Narrow Their Concerns.

The Lord had been doing great things . . .

The sick were being healed,

The dead religion of the Jews

Was being confronted,

And yet

Christ’s disciples seemed

To care only about bread.

In much the same way, many Christians today spend the majority of their life narrowly focused on themselves, and their present situation.

You tell them that the world needs Christ,

And the gospel must be proclaimed,

And all they seem to be worried about

Is why the preacher didn’t shake their hand,

Or why the temperature of the building

Isn’t set exactly like their living room at home.

The Lord Jesus asked the disciples in verse 18, “Having eyes, see you not?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?”  Notice not only how narrow the simple concerns of the disciples, notice also . . .

How Needless Their Concerns.

That same morning, these twelve men had watched the Lord Jesus take seven loaves of bread, break them, and miraculously multiply them in order to feed the 4,000 hungry people.  Their discussion over the lack of bread is trivial, futile, and needless in light of all that had gone on that day.

We fret over things like houses, clothes, doctor bills, cars, and other largely petty things. In many ways, we are like the dense disciples worrying about one loaf of bread.

Notice something else we draw from these disciples . . .

2) WERE CLUELESS IN THE SPIRITUAL.

The busy day was winding down, and as the boat started out across the water, the Lord was meditating about the confrontation he had had with the Pharisees.  The disciples, on the other hand, were busy arguing about which one of them had forgotten the bread, and which one of them had dibs on the one piece that had made it on board.

Suddenly, the Master speaks from the back of the boat.  Verse 15 tells us, “Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’”  The Lord had a spiritual truth He wanted to convey to the disciples, and yet, verse 16 says that they continued discussing the issue of the bread, as if the Lord was referring to that.

The disciples misunderstanding of the Lord’s statement to them is a reminder of how often we are clueless regarding spiritual things.  Notice a couple of things about their cluelessness.  First of all, they were clueless . . .

About His Word To Them.

Jesus makes an important spiritual statement, and the disciples completely missed the significance and meaning of what He had said.  The Lord asked them in verse 17, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?’”  There are many people who sit on church pews week after week and they hear the Word of God declared, yet they leave with no clue of what it truly means for them.

These dense disciples were not only clueless about His word to them, but notice that they were also clueless . . .

About His Work In Them.

The Lord said to His disciples in verse 15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”  The Lord was trying to develop cautious and intelligent disciples that would be prepared to minister in the midst of a culture that opposed them.  The disciples thought He was giving a lesson about buying the right kind of bread.  They were clueless about the fact that He was trying to do a work in their lives.

Every day of your life, God has something He wants to say to you and do in you. Unfortunately, many of His children are too clueless to realize that what He wants to do has nothing to do with Sportscenter or American Idol.

Notice a third truth we draw from this text. The disciples are not only concerned with the simple, and clueless in the spiritual, they are also . . .

3) WERE CALLOUSED TO THE SUPERNATURAL.

What is so astounding, and almost comical, about this whole scene is that twice in recent days, these same men had watched the Lord Jesus take a few loaves of bread, and feed somewhere close to ten thousand people.  Though they had seen Him work miracles in the past, they were calloused to His miracle working ability.

The Bible is filled with stories of God’s miracle working power.  Some of you have seen Him work miracles in your own life.  Yet today, in spite of what you know about Him, you are worried about bread.

Notice a couple of things we draw from the disciples’ callousness toward the miraculous work of the Lord Jesus.  Notice first of all . . .

They Saw No Miraculous Potential.

In verse 18 notice the Lord’s question, “Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?”  In the next couple of verses He reminds them of what had happened the last time two times that they were in a situation where there was not enough food.  In both cases . . .

The Lord had taken what seemed

To be an insufficient amount,

And had multiplied it until it was

More than what was needed.

In spite of this fact, as the disciples discussed a very similar situation, none of them seem to even consider the possibility of a miracle.  Though they had seen the miraculous occur, it did not occur to them that a miracle might happen in their situation.

You may know that God

Can perform miracles,

But when was the last time

You gave Him the opportunity

To do it your life?

When was the last time you quit counting the bread, and asked Him to multiply it instead?  Notice further . . .

They Saw No Miraculous Person.

In the text, even when Jesus interrupts the great bread debate, none of the disciples even think to ask Him to intervene in their food shortage.  Think about that. There in the boat with them was the Son of God.  He had the power to multiply the one piece of bread they had, or to create 12 new loaves of bread out of thin air.  He had spoken the universe existence.  A dozen dinner rolls would be no problem.

Listen to His question in verse 21, “So He said to them, ‘How is it you do not understand?’”  Imagine He is asking it to you?  What are you most concerned with?  Is it the things of God, or are you worried about bread?

Do you understand the things Christ is saying to you and doing in you, or are you clueless about spiritual things?  Ask God to make you more aware and awake to His power that needs to be at work in your life.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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