Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 7, 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."  Luke 5:16-25
Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book "What’s So Amazing About Grace?"

Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. 

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with voicemail. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life. 

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”

Once you have experienced grace like that it changes you forever. 

The four friends in this account show evidence of having experienced the grace of Jesus Christ in their own lives. 

First, they had an urgency.

They understood their friend had a serious need and they knew Jesus could meet it. The sooner they could get him there the better!

Second, they had a unity. 

Getting this need friend to Jesus in a timely fashion would require teamwork. They didn't need a battle of egos or a clash of wills they needed one plan agreed upon and executed by each of them. Every man needed to grab a corner of the mat and hold up his end and walk in step with the other.

That type of teamwork only comes from egos and wills that have been touched and changed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Third, they had an understanding.

It's obvious this quartet of quality companions clearly understood the gravity of this opportunity. Only Jesus could heal their friend and Jesus was in town and their would never be a better chance to get their friend into the presence of the Healer.

There was no procrastination or excuse-making for these men. They would not wait for another time. The knew today was the day of salvation for their friend!

Just like the young lady and this paralyzed friend, your only hope is to be touched by the grace of Jesus. And once you are everything changes.

The changes that happen give you a sense of urgency to help others find Him. It gives unity with others who have also been changed by grace and it infuses the understanding that when the opportunity arises to reach others you must take it.

Have you been touched by grace?

What are you waiting for?