Following Jesus by Faith

Following Jesus by Faith

Friday I had the privilege of delivering the Message of Hope for the Fallen Trooper Memorial Service at the Highway Patrol Headquarters near Columbia.

 

I told them how I can vividly remember receiving the call early in the morning of October 24, 2017, that Trooper Keith Rebman had been struck and was in critical condition, I became physically sick.

Keith wasn’t just a member of our church, he was a friend. His daughters go to school & SS with my children. His wife Michelle’s family have been pillars in our church for years.

 

Isaiah 55:9 says, “God’s ways are above our ways, and His thoughts are above our thoughts.” I take solace in that verse, because in my finite mind, I can’t understand why Keith was taken so early.

My heart breaks for Michelle, for their daughters Olivia, Charlee, & Kennedy.  

 

I said: But today is Good Friday, another day I can’t understand—how God would let His perfect sinless Son be executed— the greatest injustice in human history. But God in His infinite wisdom knew that with 3 nails & 2 pieces of wood, Jesus would build a bridge between God and us. We call it the Cross.

 

Following Jesus’ Touch

Following Jesus’ Touch

Until a couple hundred years ago, we didn’t understand the pathology of disease. In fact, the Jewish Talmud suggested a woman suffering like this, should carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen bag in the summer or in a cotton bag in the winter. Or carry a barley corn found in donkey dung, or drink wine with alum & crocuses, or onions.

 

With doctors like that, no wonder it grew worse.

 

So now she’s bankrupt from paying all her money out of pocket to these doctors.

 

How many of you can identify with spending all your money on some invasive treatment or expensive drug that only makes you worse. Now you’re bankrupt and 5 steps back!

 

This poor woman is dealing with:

·      the pain of her worsening condition,

·      the poverty of spending all she had on a cure,

·      and the despair of knowing she’s incurable.

 

But on top of that, according to Leviticus 15, because of this bleeding, she was considered ceremonially unclean.

Following Jesus Desperately

Following Jesus Desperately

Maybe sometimes you feel like the man inching across the ice.

You know the importance of faith in trials, but your faith is overwhelmed by fear.

 

You know in your head that Jesus is powerful.

At the end of ch. 4, we see His power over a dangerous storm at sea.

At the beginning of ch. 5 we see His power over demons in a man.

 

We know Jesus can handle storms on the sea & demons in a man, but how many of us encounter either of those? 

·      I mean we live in the Upstate, not too many of us spend a lot of time out on the sea, navigating through life-threatening monsoons. 

·      Not too many of us have knowingly encountered a demon-possessed person—unless you work in the nursery , you might think you have.

 

But does Jesus care about the common problems we do face?

1.    Like the fear of getting sick? Being diagnosed with a severe illness. We all know someone whose facing that.

2.    Or the fear of losing everything financially? Destitute, bankrupt

3.    The fear of being lonely? With no one to talk to, feeling isolated

4.    The fear of dying? Or seeing a loved one die?

 

We’re going to see all 4 of these fears in the 2nd half of Mark 5, with 2 desperate people.

But both of them trust Jesus in spite of their fear.

Following Jesus' Rule

Following Jesus' Rule

We’ve seen Christ’s followers in frightening situations—a life-threatening monsoon at sea, a demon-possessed guy in a graveyard.

It’s easy in those situations to be overcome by fear.

Right now, we’re praying for Morningsiders facing cancer.

For others it’s fear of the unknown.

You’re finishing high school or college—and wonder what will be next.

We face fear throughout life.

From the fear of rejection by friends or a significant other, the fear of failing a class or a marriage, or losing your job, the fear of getting Alzheimer’s.

These fears can be paralyzing.

Following Jesus Against Sin

Following Jesus Against Sin

Now for civilized Americans in 2019, this may sound primitive even outlandish.

You say, “Do you really believe in demons?”

The vast majority of Americans say they believe in God & heaven. But not so many believe in demons & hell.

Maybe you say, “I’ve never seen a demon-possessed person. I don’t plan to be demon-possessed.” If you’re a believer, you cannot be possessed by demons. You say, “So then how does this apply to me?”

Well, the Bible clearly teaches the existence of demons.

You say, “Yeah, that’s because it was written in ancient times when people had a primitive & simplistic view of the spiritual realm. They didn’t understand how the world works before the Age of Science. They didn’t understand mental illness, & disease, & epilepsy, they were simplistic and naïve.”

Actually, the Bible’s understanding of demons is complex, not simplistic. It is nuanced, not naive. It is multi-dimensional, not one-dimensional.

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.