Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jesus' Heart & The Hard-Hearted

The sermon today really affected me.  Actually, the whole service affected me.  Good 'old' worship songs (for the most part, 'older' at least) to start with, bringing up the spirit, and then diving into a great teaching.  Maybe you'll be as affected as I was.  The passage is from Luke 14: 1-6:

One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

You can really tell that Luke tries to paint a picture that shows the difference between the state of Jesus' heart and the state of the Pharisees' hearts.  So really, the first thing that we shall look at is....

I.  The Pharisees' Heart

Luke lets us know something in the first verse.  Where are the Pharisees' eyes?  On Jesus.  But you get the sense that they're not watching Him with reverence as His Disciples did.  They are watching Him 'carefully'<--They're trying to trap Him.  They're completely ignoring the man who's obviously sick.  The word 'Dropsy' probably doesn't mean much to us, but it's really a serious disease.  Somewhat of like a human being 'swelling' all over.

Although Luke never actually tells us what the Pharisees did, he did say that Jesus responded--with a question in verse 3.  Verse 4 shows the Pharisees silent, and unresponsive.  The Pharisees didn't really answer Jesus' question for several reasons.  The first one is probably that there aren't actually any verses in the Law Of Moses that says you can't heal people on the Sabbath Day.  No idea ever exists.  If they were to answer 'yes, it is against the Law to heal on the Sabbath', they knew that that would give Jesus ground, even though He says it anyway in verse 5.  If they answered, it would really show how inconsistent their values were.  Jesus' values went against what they held to be true, even though it was false, according to Jesus.

So the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, and 'ignored' the sick man.  But if this whole situation was designed to 'trap' Jesus, they not only IGNORED the poor fellow, but USED him.  That is a very sad picture.  The Values held by the Pharisees breaks down their followers by rules and traditions.  Jesus heaps Grace on His followers.  Luke really 'unveils' the warped scale of Values that the Pharisees held on to.

But Wait...There's Something Else......

Too quickly, will we desire to 'bonk' the heads of the Pharisees and say, "Do you not see this?!  How do you still NOT understand?!".  Too LATE, we seem to realize that this is a warning for us today.  We want to say, "Yeah, we're like Jesus in this type of situation".  Well...that may be all well and true...but then it may not be.  It's too easy to feel like you have it together, and you don't really want to or think that you need to change some things.  Hold onto this last point as we look through on the next point, and that will kind of build a few bridges.

II.  Jesus' Heart

Really, every action that Jesus takes in this sequence of events reveals things about His Character.  The Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with them.  Jesus, along with others, obviously know that the Pharisees have it out for Him.  If you knew that someone was plotting to kill you, would you without question accept an invitation?  I probably wouldn't, but, Jesus did.  This reveals Him to be Bold.  He's also very ACCEPTING of people...All KINDS!  He showed compassion on the sick man, but always see Him pursuing the Pharisees.  On first look, it might look like He's rebuking them out of slight anger and judgment.  But, if you look a little'll see that as He talks with them, He's always saying, "Repent, repent!".  Is the point being driven home a little bit more?

Here's the point:  We MUST be in a state of Heart & Mind that allows the Holy Spirit to Teach and Guide us.  Jesus had heart for both the Down-Hearted and the Hard-Hearted, and so should we.  I believe I have a heart for the people that are hurting and desperate.  My problem is that I have no heart for the people who stand on the nonexistent 'middle ground'.  They're not necessarily lost, but they may be immature or silly, and I just don't like dealing with those kinds of people.

After the sermon and before we left, we had a time of prayer.  This is when the people that feel convicted come up to the front and kneel to pray.  Then their friends come up and pray with them.  I was talking with a friend, and we came to the conclusion that, although we all may not be perfect in getting the job done...It's in our heart to change our actions toward others.  When we desire to have a soft, warm heart for His people and the Lost, no matter in what manner they are Lost...God will give us that Heart, and we'll be able to act on it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

He Cares For You

I unfortunately have been too busy to be able to post on the latter sermons, however; I'm posting about the one today.

First off, Happy Mother's Day!  :)

Second, the sermon was really great.  It was from 1st Peter 5:6-11 (For the most part).

"6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Things can definitely be said about the first verse, but that's not where the focus was.  The main idea was around 'casting all your anxieties on Him' in verse 7.  The thing is that we can be plagued and attacked by many kinds of 'anxieties': burdens, trials, fears, etc.  But they all come in several different categories:

1.  Ongoing...these kinds of troubles center around the same thing over a period of time, such as several months to years to even all of life.  (Physical Illness, Depression, and more).  It is definitely true that trials and burdens DO go on all throughout our lives.

2.  The next category was defined as 'Acute'.  These sorts of trials happen in an instant...such as a car accident or the event of a life passing away into Heaven's arms.  They're here, and then they're gone.  In the case of the latter, you could say that it's an ongoing thing for awhile, but that's really the Depression involving it, not necessarily 'it' itself.

3.  Another one may be things that are imagined, or in future scenarios about the next day or upcoming years:  The pursuit of marriage for a teen growing into the adult stage (such as me [not that I'm actually headed for 'marriage' this moment]), or the bearing of kids for a couple, or even fears such as the future collapse of our country and world.  There's a verse in Matthew that I absolutely love, and it's in chapter six, verse thirty-four.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."

In itself, that verse may seem a little bit confusing.  What Jesus is really getting at though, is that God will take care of your needs, which then leads in to the next category.

4.  This one is certainly not the most danger filled one, but it's very sad:  When we are Doubting His Care.  Verse 34 from chapter six of Matthew also sort of brings some things into this one as well.  Read on through verse 8 and 9 of chapter five in 1 Peter again.  Peter gives us a warning.

And then this is where some people start asking these questions:  Why?  Why do we have these Trials?  Why are some of them so devastating as to almost rob you of your life?

The answers to these questions are not always easily understood, until you look back on something and realize that God was there all along.  There are several reasons why we have these Trials:

  • They produce tested, Genuine Faith.  James says it well in the first chapter of his letter:  "Count it All Joy, my Brothers, when you meet Trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let Steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
  • Following the 'Genuine Faith' idea, it also grows you to be more dependent upon Him.  Beside your growing 'Genuine Faith', your Trust will grow as well.  You may be tempted to blame Him for what you're going through, but when you're at the end, you can almost see all that He did for you in that time.  He leads you through the Storm, the emphasis being on 'leads'.  He has his arm around you, and you're in the shelter of His wings.  Don't fret, my brothers and sisters.  When it all comes to pass, you shall Praise God for His enduring Faithfulness toward you.
  • There are more things that could be said, such as our own Sin (and again God teaching us to be more like Him through it) and many more that you could list off.
Pure and simple though, behind everything, the answer is:  He CARES for you! :)  Well, that's all good and known, you may say.  A typical conversation would've just asked the question that I already answered.  Then the proceeding question would go like this:  Well, since you say He CARES for me, HOW does He care about it?

Well, front and center, He knows your suffering.  As Jesus, God walked through the human life of trials, and ended up taking on the Greatest Sacrifice of All...His own life.  My dear brothers and sisters, He knows pain.

Psalm 56:8: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?"

You should read through to the end of the section at verse 11.  It ends with something encouraging:  "In God I trust, what can man do to me?"

It's almost a boast:  Hey, yeah, sure, men can hurt me bodily, make me depressed, make me flee...but I don't really have to be scared, because I know what's coming and where I'm going, and man can't change that.

Beyond that, every moment you've been down, every tear you've cried, every event of your earthly pain He has counted, and every other event besides.

Even beyond that, He WILL NEVER forget you.  Luke puts it this way:  "6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."

If God forgets not the sparrows, or the grass upon we tread, shall He forget us?  By no means, my friends:  We are 'of more value than many sparrows'.

He Protects you and Provides for you.  The Father sent His One and Only Son to us.  Jesus gave to us to the point of giving His Very LIFE...if He gave us His Eternal Life, why would He not give us all our very needs?

Now, of course some aspects of our trials will remain with us until we see Him face to face.  But we have a hope in this text that never fails.  His love never fails.  When the storms rage, we don't have to be afraid.  We have a friend that the wind and storms obey...and He's interceding for us at the Right Hand Of God.  Because HE cares for YOU, cast all of your ANXIETIES on Him, and He'll take care of you. :)