One of the most touching moments thus far in our study of the book of Mark, is how Jesus interfaces with those who have “special needs.” I call it “special needs” because we have witnessed Him performing many great miracles for a multitude who have come to Him for healing. That is not the group to whom I am referring. Every now and then Jesus happens on a moment. Not just any moment, but a moment that carries with it special circumstances; and invariably each time before He takes action, the Bible says He was moved with compassion. The woman with the issue of blood, the widow of Nain and many others. There is a lesson inside of the lesson and it’s simply this. We don’t have to perform the miracles of Jesus in order to show compassion to others. We need to see those as two separate actions. In each of these cases before a miraculous healing occurred, it was preceded by the compassion of Jesus. One of the beautiful aspects of Jesus is His total engagement with all humans, not just people who fit into a particular category. Case in point, the woman at the well, and the woman caught in adultery. In each case, if He had acted differently, his Jewish audience would have been totally supportive of His actions. But Jesus came to die for all men, not just a select few. So, what would be the result if we would lead with compassion, instead of judgment (which is a natural human reaction). God is calling his people to be a people of compassion. Not just to some. Not just to those like us. Not just to those we like, but to all people we encounter at all times, because they all have one thing in common. They are all humans loved by the same God that loves us. If anyone has anything to say about us, let it be said that we are a loving compassionate people.
The Joy of the Lord
This morning our message is a continuation from last week as we talked about Mustard Seed Faith. From these messages I have given much thought to the attack of Satan, on the faith of believers.
Society is besieged by the work of the evil one. Sadly, his effort has reached far- even into the church. The world seems so different now. After three years, Covid is still a discussion in society as during this time many have walked away from God. Others are shouting “there is no God”, while some are saying, “who is God?” In addition, society is also feeling a strange pressure of war. Not that war is anything new (quite the contrary), but this war is escalating into something that may require us to move all of our church services to heaven. The “N” word is becoming more and more commonplace after multiple countries are threatening to use nuclear weapons. The price of gas is up, and the stock market is down. The world around us appears to be unraveling.
In the midst of this maddening chaos there is a place which God, in his infinite wisdom, has prepared for us. As the song says, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Whatever comes against me, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Whatever is taken from me, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Regardless what is said about me, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Regardless how large the bomb dropped on my house, the joy of the Lord is still my strength. The beautiful reality of being in Christ is that NOTHING can touch the joy God has placed in us. As things continue to unravel, just remember - the joy of the Lord is our strength!
Often, I look around and the words of Solomon come to mind: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Today things are so bizarre, sometimes it’s hard to believe Solomon’s statement can be true - but it is. The deeper we look into biblical history, we not only find they shared many of the same ills as our society, but in some instances, they were worse. Perhaps it would be better understood to think in terms of: same content in a different wrapper.
What does this all mean to us? The answer is simple. The same gospel that converted many in days past, will do the same in ours. Despite the frustrations of Christians today as we watch society walk further and further away from God, we must keep in mind there are still those who are looking to find the cross, even as daily they walk in darkness. What this all means to us is, we cannot allow ourselves to be sidetracked by anything which will pull us away from our purpose.
To remain effective for the Kingdom, we must utilize the 3P’s. The first “P” is Praying that God will put someone in our path who is looking for the cross. The second “P”: Be Prepared for this encounter through study, and a bold willingness to share the word of God with any and everyone. Finally, the last ”P”: Praise him for using you as a vessel and tool in his hand. Living the 3P’s will keep us from being barren, and unfruitful in the work of the master.
“If God Be For Us”
There are few passages that empower us as much as these words written by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:31. I know you have read them often, but have you ever paused long enough to ponder the depths of their meaning? We know that God is all powerful and there is nothing in all of creation that can thwart, side-track or stop anything He sets into motion. It’s easier to understand it as we think about the universe and nature, but how does it relate to you and I? At first glance, it gives the impression that God is on our side (like a big brother) and no one can mess with us without first dealing with big brother. In that way of thinking, God is our protector. However, if we apply this same thinking to our desires (since He is on OUR side), could it mean no one can keep us from getting whatever we want, in that He is our provider? However, if we push this thinking to the maximum, He becomes someone like Santa Claus in our minds: the only requirement is to be good, and He will only give us good things. What about the misguided thought that because He is on our side, we will never face disappointment, opposition or failure? It’s easy to see how many ways this scripture can be interpreted and stretched, so let’s give thought to exactly what Paul is expressing in this text.
In context, the verse is preceded by Paul’s assertion that God has good purposes for the Christian. It is followed by a statement that no one can bring a charge against the Christian, since it is God who justifies. Paul rounds it out by proclaiming that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Therefore, in context, Paul’s question of “who can be against us” appears to be asking who can bring condemnation against the Christian. The answer is no one. God has chosen us as His children and heirs. God is the judge. If He is for us, no one can condemn us. Therefore, we are secure in Christ. What that looks like in application is what God has done in us through Christ, and what God has promised us in Christ; nothing and no one can take that away. Yes, we will face hardships, opposition and hurt, but these pale in comparison to what awaits us in eternity. If we take a human view we miss his point, however if we take an eternal view, we see his point clearly- and we rejoice!