Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 18, 2014

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man 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. “ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:17-26

I love this story! Apparently the Apostles did, too because it is recorded in three of the four Gospels. It is both inspiring and challenging.

I want to draw on it as a picture or an illustration of how FredWes can “carry on” from a year of good growth to a year of greater growth and outreach.

Briefly, I want to highlight four admirable traits modeled by these four friends who were so desperate to get their needy friend to Jesus they carried him with their own hands!

Moving forward into this new ministry year 2014-15, here is how we can carry on in effective ministry:

These guys were not willing to be unconcerned - “Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat”

Concern is seeing someone who is in need and being willing get involved in helping that need get met. One of the reasons FredWes grew this year is because we became concerned for needs outside of the church walls. We raised money for a well, we sent people to Guatemala, we sent a team to Hephzibah, and we met needs at EconoLodge and carried some folks to the feet of Jesus!

In this coming year let’s carry on in our concern for the needs of others!

These guys were not willing to be uncommitted – “and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus”

Probably most people have concerns over needs they see around them, but very few commit to meeting those needs. Concern is expressed through commitment. You can’t be truly concerned without responding to those concerns. These guys demonstrated their concern for their paralyzed friend by picking up a corner of a cot and carrying it to where Jesus was.

To carry on the growth that we experienced last year, let’s remain committed to getting people to Jesus!

These guys were willing to be uncomfortable – “they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd”

Carrying a paralyzed man across town is uncomfortable! It’s hard work! It’s heavy work! On a Summer day it is hot work! But they weren't concerned about their own comfort, they were committed to their friend being touched by Jesus. Once they finally arrived, they had to carry him around and through a crowd of people.

Growth is exciting but it is also uncomfortable. This year we ventured out of our comfort zone on a few occasions. To carry on our growth we will need to get used to being uncomfortable and venture further outside of that comfort zone.

These guys were willing to be Unconventional – “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”
I love these guys! They were so committed and so desperate to get their friend to Jesus, when they couldn't get through the crowd they formulated another plan. Climbing up to the roof while clinging to the cot, they decided proceeded to rip a whole in the roof, tie ropes to the corners of the cot and lowered him right in front of Jesus! They would not be denied!

These guys valued the Master and His message more than they valued their traditional methods!

You know the seven last words of the church don’t you? They are, “We have never done it this way before!” To carry on with the growth we have enjoyed this year, we must be open to unconventional ways of reaching people and bringing people to Jesus!

Their concern and commitment and discomfort were rewarded when their friend found salvation and healing at the hand of Jesus!

God, give us what these guys had so we can see people saved and healed in 2014-15!