Following Rules Out Of Fear

John 5:9-15 (NIV)

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

When we believe that our religious rules are more important than people, we are truly far from the heart of Jesus. The religious leaders of the Jews were quick to point out to the man who had been healed that he was breaking their rules. They had interpreted the law of resting on the Sabbath to include carrying one’s mat. As though God would strike this man down for carrying his mat! Little did they know that it was God who had actually told him to do it.

Our desire for rules to follow comes from a place of fear. What if I make God mad? What if God won’t love me anymore? What if God won’t let me go to Heaven? Yet the Bible tells us that perfect love (which God has for us) drives out fear. What are we so afraid of when it comes to God and His love for us? God desires that no one should perish and that all should come to a knowledge of the Truth. If we really believe that God is not out to “get us” (except to get us into Heaven), then we don’t have to be terrified of Him. We don’t have to fearfully follow rules, but instead we are free to enjoy a loving relationship with Him.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I thank You for loving me. I want to live a life that pleases You. I want to live in a loving relationship with You. Drive out the fear in my heart so that I will know that I am free. I love You and thank You in Jesus’ name, amen.


Do You Want To Get Well?

John 5:1-9 (NIV)

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him,“Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

There was a superstition regarding the pool at Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would descend and stir up the waters in the pool. The first person who could get in the water when this happened could be healed. Whether this was true or not, we don’t really know.
On this particular day, Jesus approached the pool. He discovered that there was a man there who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus singled him out for healing. Why this man? Why not any or all of the countless others who had been there for quite some time? Only Jesus knows.
Jesus approached the man and asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6, NIV) and the man indicates that he’s been trying to do this for quite some time. Yes! He wants to get well, but he’s been unable to do what it takes on his own.
What is interesting is that Jesus heals the man without asking him anything about his faith in Him or even God. Jesus puts no stipulations or conditions on the man for healing. He just heals him. Muscles that had atrophied were filled with strength. He hadn’t walked in thirty-eight years! Now he was up and moving about by the power of Jesus.
Jesus has the power to heal us today. He heals broken hearts, minds and bodies. He gives strength to our atrophied faith muscles. Even when we don’t quite believe the right things. Even when we don’t have anyone else to help us. Jesus knows all about your troubled heart and soul. He’s coming for you and He’s got healing in His hands. Reach out to Him in faith and let Him pick you up and heal you.
PRAYER: Lord God, I am in need of Your healing today. My heart and soul are troubled. I feel alone and desperate. No one else can help me but You. I need Your healing touch. You know my pain and my heartache. Give life to my atrophied soul. In Jesus’ healing name, amen.

As The Lord Forgave You

In Jeremiah 31, God made a promise of a new covenant to come.  He foretold of a time when the old covenant and its sacrificial system would be no more.  That God would no longer dwell in a temple made by human hands, but instead would live in the hearts of His people.  God would make a new covenant because His people had failed to live up to the old covenant.  Idolatry and spiritual infidelity caused God to make a new covenant through His Son, Jesus.
My friends, we are living under this new covenant.  God’s Holy Spirit lives in our hearts by grace through faith in Jesus.  We have the gift of His Word to teach us and guide us in our walk with Christ.  He has forgiven our wickedness and has promised to remember our sins no more.  Think about that for just a moment.

For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more. – Hebrews 8:12 (NIV)

Three things come to my mind with regard to this verse.
  • First, God is awesome!  His love and grace are so much more than I can fathom.
  • Second, the devil is a liar.  When he comes calling and bringing up your past, remember this promise.  Your sins are forgiven and God will not bring them to mind ever again.
  • Third, we need to forgive…and forget.  Colossians 3:13 (NIV) says:

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

God has forgiven our sins and chooses not to hold them against us.  He has promised to forgive and forget.  We must be willing to do the same.  We cannot say, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget!”  It doesn’t mean that we are not wary of those who abuse our forgiveness and wrong us time and time again.  It means that we forgive and we choose not to hold their transgressions against them.  We won’t be best friends, but we can be civil and courteous.  We are still called to love everyone, even our enemies.  We are called to forgive everyone, even those who wrong us over and over.  Think of what Jesus told Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV):

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Let us be ambassadors of forgiveness.  Let us demonstrate God’s forgiveness to the world.  Let us not hold grudges for grudges turn into bitterness.  We are living under a new covenant of grace and forgiveness.  Praise the Lord!
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I praise and thank You for Your grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. Help me to forgive others today who have wronged me and hurt me. Help me to seek forgiveness from those whom I have wronged and hurt as well. Thank You for Jesus, amen.

Jesus The Healer

John 4:43-54 (NIV)

After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole householdbelieved.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

The royal official “took Jesus at His word.” This man was desperate for Jesus to heal his son. He literally begged Jesus to come and heal him. Large crowds would follow Jesus everywhere and this man had managed to get to Jesus. He begs the Lord to come and heal his son because he was going to die. This is a desperate father.
Jesus knew the hearts of the people around Him. He knew that they would never believe unless they saw signs and wonders. He could have quizzed the man about what he truly believed, but He didn’t. Instead, Jesus, showing command over time and space, heals the man’s son from afar.
How desperate are you for healing in your life? Whether it is for someone else or for yourself, are you desperate for healing? Have you taken your brokenness to Jesus? He’s the only one who can heal it. Whether it is a broken body or a broken heart, Jesus can heal it if it is His will. The questions is, will you take Him at His word? Do you believe that He can heal you if it is His will? He knows what is best and if it is best for you to be healed, He can do it in this moment. Trust Him for healing in your life. Let Him reach across time and space to bring healing to your body, heart and soul. Take your brokenness to Him and find the healing you desire.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray for Your healing in my life today. I am broken and I need You to fix the broken places in my life. Mend the broken relationships. Heal my broken body. Restore my broken soul. Thank You for Your healing power. Amen.

The Great Reunion

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. — 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV)

I was thinking about relationships and friendships this morning and how hard it is to be separated by miles and miles.  I like e-mail and the telephone, but it is no substitute for a face-to-face reunion.  That is the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4.  There will be a great reunion of loved ones, both friends and family.  Those who have passed away and those who are still alive.  We who are one in Christ will see each other face to face again.  We may be separated by time and space at the present moment, but we will be reunited in the presence of the Lord on that great day.

Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage each other with the words he had written about the return of Christ.  My encouragement to you today is to remain faithful until He returns.  Stay faithful, my friends.  The reward and the reunion is well worth it.  Though we may face trials, tribulations and temptations, stay faithful.

PRAYER: Help me, O God, to be faithful to Jesus no matter what. I long for His coming. I long to be with You forever. Help me to stay faithful as long as I live. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.


Seeing For Yourself

John 4:39-42 (NIV)

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Sometimes you’ve got to experience Jesus for yourself before you’re convinced that He is who He said He is. You can tell people about Jesus and the difference He’s made in your life, but until they taste and see the goodness of the Lord, they just won’t accept it. Until they hear His words for themselves, they can’t believe it. Think of Thomas, the disciple who doubted, and how he couldn’t accept the fact of the resurrection until he saw Jesus for himself. The other disciples told him that they had seen the risen Lord and they just couldn’t convince him. The Samaritans in John 4 believed the woman at the well, but they became convinced that Jesus is the Savior because they heard Him for themselves.
We need to be patient and merciful with people who have doubts about Jesus’ true identity. Everyone is in a different place on their journey of faith. Some people are so close to believing in Jesus. We need to keep working with them to show them the truth of His grace. Some people are much further away from believing in Jesus. We need to be patient with them and love them into the Kingdom of God. Don’t give up on the doubters. Instead, as Jude said, be merciful to them (Jude 1:22).
PRAYER: My Father in Heaven, I pray for those people I know who doubt. Whether they doubt Your love, power, grace or existence, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to them that they may come to know You in a real way. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me and for continuing to be patient with me when I doubt. In Jesus’ name, amen.

True Religion

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church from September 18, 2016. This message is based on James 1:19-27 and is the second sermon in our series based on the book of James.


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