following Jesus through fear

following Jesus through fear

We saw last week Jesus allows His disciples to go into the storm—not to chastise their disobedience, but to teach them.

 You say, “How do I learn in the storms of life?” Many of you have shared with me this week how the message spoke to you as you’re going through a storm physically, financially, relationally. So how do you learn in the storm?

Let me give you a formula: T + A + G = Your response

Trial (the storm God allows you to enter) + your Ability (we all have diff levels of physical stamina, financial safety nets, emotional intelligence) + your view of God (who you think He is)= either Fear/Anxiety/Depression or Hope/Rest/Peace.

Following Jesus in the Storm

Following Jesus in the Storm

Jesus has just finished a long day of parables. Verse 34 says, “He expounded all things to His disciples.” But now they’re leaving the classroom. 

So Jesus taught them about His kingdom in parables. Now He’ll show them His kingdom in real life. From the ivory tower into the testing furnace. From the classroom to the school of hard knocks. Jesus is going to quit talking about their faith. Now He’ll start testing it.

How do you react when your faith is tested? How do you react in moments of difficulty when God isn’t responding the way you expected, or it seems like He's not there, or it seems like He doesn't care, or it seems like He doesn't hear? 

Is there a disconnect between your worship on Sunday and the anxiety you’ll feel during week when you sense a storm is coming, or drop-dead panic when a storm rolls into your life—something unthinkable happens in your family, in your relationship? You hear the words “cancer” or “divorce” or “I don’t love you.”

See talking about our faith is easy—on Sunday, when it’s just theory, when it’s just the classroom. But what happens when we go out on the streets of the real world? In the trials and storms of life?

This morning, we’re going to look at following Jesus in the storm. 

following Jesus patiently

following Jesus patiently

We want more visibility. We want bigger. And we want it faster. And Christians can start to apply this thinking to our spiritual lives.

Last week we heard great preaching in our Gospel Conference. Some of you are about to start a week of Bible Conference or the Core Conference.

It’s easy after a week of camp or special services, powerful preaching  to feel like you’re on a spiritual mountain top. But what happens when you come down?

Remember Elijah, the great prophet who had this amazing mountaintop experience where he supernaturally defeats 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.

But instead of sparking a revival in Israel, all it gets him is a death warrant from Queen Jezebel. So in the next chapter, Elijah’s fighting depression and suicide.

reaching out with rest

Please turn with me to Mark 2.

 

How many of you like to be tired? How many of you like to be hungry?

 

Some of you have little kids. And you’ve witnessed with your own 2 eyes how they can transform from little angels into demons (fallen angels) when they get tired & hungry.

 

Maybe the same happens to your teenager or your husband.


Do you remember the Snickers commercials “You’re not your when you’re hungry.”

 

Did you know God cares about your food & sleep?

Just as we don’t want to see our kids tired or hungry, our heavenly Father doesn’t want to see us as His children tired or hungry.

 

We’ll see that in today’s text. Look at Mark 2:23

reaching out with proof

Please turn with me to Mark 2.

We saw last time that Jesus reaches out with forgiveness. Four friends literally raise the roof so their paralyzed buddy can be a drop-in guest in the packed house where Jesus is teaching.

But instead of healing the man, what does Jesus do? He says in v. 5, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” He forgives him. What a wonderful thing.

Verse 12 says, “they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw it on this fashion—We never saw anything like this!’”

But not everyone was amazed or glorifying God. The scribes are furious. This is the 1st of many clashes they have with Christ in Mark. This account of the paralytic is the last of 5 healings that started in 1:21, but it’s also the 1st of 5 conflicts that will go through 3:6. 

reaching out with forgiveness

A little boy Mason was visiting his grandparents & given his 1st slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma’s backyard, he saw her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim & let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.

 

Mason panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and find his sister Isabelle watching. She had seen it all, and she had a big smile on her face.

 

After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Isabelle, let’s wash the dishes.” But Isabelle said, “Mason told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Mason?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck! So Mason did the dishes.

 

Later Grandpa asked if the kids wanted to go fishing, Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Isabelle to help make supper.” Isabelle smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of. Mason wants to do it.” Again she whispered, “Remember the duck.” Mason stayed while Isabelle went fishing.

 

After several days of Mason doing both his chores and Isabelle’s, finally he couldn’t stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck.

 

“I know, Mason,” she said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. I forgive you. I wondered how long you would let Isabelle make you her slave.

 

Forgiveness frees us.

This morning there are some of you who are slaves to sin, you need to be forgiven.

There are some of you who are slaves to guilt, you need to recognize your forgiveness.

 

In our account, we see forms of the word “forgive” in v. 5, 7, 9, 10. 

 

Let’s see how Jesus extends forgiveness to those who exercise faith.

reaching out with cleansing

Jesus cleanses untouchables.

Look at v. 41: And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him,

The fact that Luke says this man was “full of leprosy” probably means he’d had it for a long time. It may have been years since he’d felt the touch of his wife, the kiss of her lips, the embrace of his children and friends.

I heard about a young man who was so lonely—he had no family, no church, no friends—that he went for a haircut every week, just to feel someone touch him. 

This one reason we shake hands, in spite of the hygiene concerns. Can you imagine what it was like for this leper to feel Christ’s touch? After all this time, now Jesus takes hold of him.

No doubt the crowd was shocked. The disciples aghast. 

Now by law, Jesus was considered unclean. He could become a leper. 

Jesus reaches out and touches the unclean leper and there is power in His touch. 

Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the leper becomes clean.  

Christ’s cleansing power overrides this man’s defilement.

This is Christ’s will—to cleanse untouchables. Look again at v. 41….

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, “I will; be thou clean.”

Remember the only “If” in the leper’s voice, his only hesitation is not whether Jesus is able, but whether Jesus will. 

reaching out with priorities

When a football coach was called up from his college team to the NFL, he decided to divorce his wife of 26 years. Why? He said at the college level, he needed a wife for social functions—to look good; and show parents of recruits, that he would be a good role model to their sons.

But in pro football, a wife was unnecessary baggage and a distraction to winning. So he threw her away. He didn't need her any more.

He said winning football was his #1 priority.

In contrast, Tom Landry, who had coached that same NFL team (see I don’t dislike the Cowboys) said,

"The thrill of knowing Jesus is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.  In 1958, I did something everyone who has been successful must do, I determined my priorities for my life — God, family, and then football."

Last week, we saw that after a long day and night of preaching and healing, Jesus got up early the next morning and got alone with His Father to pray.

reaching out with prayer

In the same way, all of us deal with some form of pressure.

 

Maybe not physical pressure. We’re not at a high altitude right now.

 

It may be academic pressure—your parents really want you to do well in school.

I was talking to a guy Friday who lived in China for several years. He told me parents put so much pressure on their kids to do well academically, that every spring when they take their standardized tests—the suicide rates skyrocket.

 

Maybe you’re experiencing financial pressure—you’re getting behind on your bills. You’re afraid of emergencies. You don’t know how you’ll make ends meet.

 

Maybe you’re experiencing emotional pressure—at your job, at school, from a bully who’s always picking on you.

 

Maybe you’re experiencing family pressure. Maybe your home is full of screaming and yelling and hot tempers. Maybe even physical abuse. And you dread coming home to your family.

Maybe like the mom in this picture, you feel like you need 6 arms to do everything.

 

How do you cope with the pressures of life?

reaching out with compassion

Joseph Pulitzer, the 19th-century newspaper baron and founder of the Pulitzer prize, believed in the power of the news. Not only was he convinced that a newspaper should be one of the most powerful institutions on earth, he believed its influence should extend even further.

 

You say, “What does that mean?” Pulitzer wanted to erect a sign so large it would be visible on the planet Mars. He wanted to advertise his newspaper across the universe.

 

I don’t think he would have found too many news readers on Mars.

Though sometimes I wonder how many news writers are from Mars.

 

But Pulitzer was right that Good News can have a global and even universal impact.

 

That’s what we see in Mark’s Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ the Son of God (v. 1) is breaking out, and everything in Christ’s path is being changed.

 

·      At His baptism, Heaven is opened.

·      At his temptation, wild beasts are tamed and angels minister to Him.

·      At the synagogue, His teaching is powerful & authoritative.

·      And a demon flees from a possessed man.

·      At Peters’ house, fever leaves his mother-in-law faster than the demon.

 

When Jesus comes, the Gospel transforms lives.