Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Luke 5 Friendship

Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20

What friends this man had! Although their names are not mentioned, the men referenced in this passage of scripture are an example of what true, Christian friendship should look like. I have listed just a few reasons why I believe they should be an example to us all.

1.        The friends carried the man because he couldn’t make it on his own. Take a look around your world. Sin is rampant in our culture and we all know people within our own realm so beaten down or bound by sinful choices that they may be unable to move towards Jesus. In essence, they are paralyzed by sin as surely as this man was paralyzed physically. For whatever reason, God has allowed us as believers to be used as part of His work. It is our responsibility to pick up and carry those towards the only one who can heal them.

2.       The friends worked as a team. They gathered together, agreed upon what it was he needed for healing, and bore the burden together. Imagine if one friend had tried to carry this man on his own. The physical strength necessary would have been much greater, perhaps resulting in him being more likely to give up when he ran into the obstacle of the crowd. Teamwork provided not only additional physical strength, but also more ideas of how to face the obstacles. The verse doesn’t tell us which of the men came up with the idea of lowering the paralytic through the roof.

3.       The friends didn’t give in when things became difficult. They faced several obstacles in getting this man to Jesus, but they didn’t give up! The text says they could not find a way to lay the man at the feet of Jesus because of the crowd, indicating that they tried and were stopped by the crowd. They could have given up right then, but they didn’t. They searched for another way to reach Jesus. How quick are we to give up when someone does not seem to respond to us despite the fact that we know they need Jesus?  

4.        They made a way. These friends were outside the box thinkers! They could not reach Jesus because of the crowd but they were determined and persistent. They carried the man to the roof and lowered him down on his mat through the tiles. They took drastic measures to make certain this man reached Jesus.

5.        Where did they take him? They didn’t offer him advice of the world. They didn’t try to heal him with the latest fad going around the nation. They knew what he needed—Jesus—and nothing else would do. They didn’t care who scoffed at them or told them to get lost. Their determination to get him to Jesus was proof enough of their knowledge that nothing and no one else could heal him. Even Jesus saw and noticed their faith.

But what does this type of friendship look like in our world today? How do we carry people to Jesus? As believers, we all know Jesus is the great healer, not only physically but spiritually. This week, I challenge you to ask God to open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Ask him to show you the paralyzed needing your help, as well as the faith and determination to carry them to Christ.  


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Partial Obedience is Disobedience

I can do this, I thought. Walking around the church building three times seemed like a good workout. Plus, I was being obedient to God’s direction. So I walked and I prayed. Once around the building…twice around the building…three times around the building, praying for each thing mentioned in prayer guide.

As I approached the end of the third lap, I was seriously huffing and puffing. My legs burned from the unfamiliar rigorous exercise, but I felt good. I’d done it! Pride and a sense of accomplishment welled up inside me. Yes, this was a good idea, I thought. God had known just what I needed as He always did.

Then I closed the guide and saw something on the back page that made me shudder…directions for what to pray on the fourth and fifth times around the building.

Five times around the church building! Are you kidding me?

 Suddenly deflated, I limped towards my car. I was already breathing heavy from three times around. No way could I make it five laps. I got into my car and started the engine, fully intent upon leaving. At least I’d done three. That was more than I’d ever done. Surely God would be cool with that. He knew I was out of shape. He knew I couldn’t handle more. He’d understand why I couldn’t complete this task.

Partial obedience is disobedience.

Those words from this week’s Bible study spoke to my spirit. What if Joshua had given up the march around the city after the third lap? What if Moses had given up after speaking to Pharoah once? What if Jesus had gotten to the last supper and declared he’d done enough already in his thirty-three years and wasn’t going to the cross? None of them had given up on the task God had given them.

Didn’t I care about praying for the staff and church leaders? Didn’t I care about praying for missions? But I can do that from my car, my flesh protested. Sit in the car and pray. Driving and praying. Why didn’t we have a ministry for that? Yet those words continued to speak to my spirit—partial obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience. I couldn’t deny God had given me this task and to do less than all five laps was only partial obedience to His instructions.

I had to do the other two laps around the church.

Fighting my fleshly laziness and out-of-shape-ness, I got out of the car, reminded God that I would need His strength to do this, then began laps four and five of my prayer walk.

In case you’re wondering, I lived to tell this tale. God gave me the renewed strength and endurance I needed to do what He’d instructed me to do. And I have to admit, I did feel better after completing my task. Getting up early, getting in some exercise and prayer time, that was just what my lazy self had needed today, and God knew that, just as He always knows what is best for me. When I spotted my car this time, I was tired and sweating, but I felt amazing. I was actually smiling.

Even so…I checked that prayer guide one last time, hoping against hope that I hadn’t somehow overlooked another page that instructed me on lap six. And I was thankful there wasn’t.

Partial obedience is disobedience.  

Thank you, Lord, for that reminder today.