And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” – Mark 2:1-12 (NKJV)
Glory to God! We’ve made it a whole week with only one time that I had to put off a message till the next day. We still have 39 messages to go, but we’re on track to finish this series on time. So, I’m pretty excited about that! I’m getting to today’s message this late only because I didn’t have time to get the message written before I had to leave for work, and even though I have to be back bright and early tomorrow I’m going to get today’s message written and posted tonight.
That said, in tonight’s message, we pick things up in Mark chapter 2 where Jesus heals a paralytic. The title of this message is “True Friendship Cares”, and this is the kind of message that could really preach. This is the story of the people who took the roof off of the building to get their paralytic friend to see Jesus. I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time here because I want to give God plenty of time to speak whatever it is He’s wanting to speak to us about friendship. I have a feeling this could become a pretty strong message that’ll probably rub some people the wrong way, but none the less I’m going to write it like I write all of my messages…obeying the Lord and trusting Him with the results!
So, let’s get into tonight’s message.
True Friendship Cares:
Even without much assistance I can look at the title and the backdrop of this story, and have a pretty good idea of where God’s wanting to go tonight. It’s a topic that I touch on occasionally by saying that it should never be easier to find in the world the kind of love and friendship people should be able to find in the church. The reality is the reason I say that so often is that I hear people in and of the world’s main objection to becoming a part of the Body of Christ is because of the way the Body of Christ treats one another.
Listen. I was a part of the world for a while. I can tell you that people in the bars treat me better than many people who are in the church. I’ve found people in the bar to be more authentic and willing to accept me as I am then people in the church, and I don’t think I need to tell you that things shouldn’t be that way. The church isn’t making Jesus attractive to the world…that’s why it doesn’t want to be a part of the church. They find better treatment in the world than they do in the church. As I said, we all know it shouldn’t be that way, but the reality is…it is that way.
If it wasn’t that way Jesus wouldn’t have had me spend so much time talking about how the church has really become a body full of people who are self-righteous, and their love for one another IN THE CHURCH is worse than that of the love people receive outside of the church. At least we can expect rude and selfish treatment by those of the world, but when it’s experienced in the church then it’s no wonder that people aren’t attracted to the church. I still find that if you don’t fit into people’s box of what they think a churchy person ought to be like then they will never accept you into their religious world.
I don’t know about you, but I’m done with religion. I’m done with trying to fit into people’s boxes of what they think a churchy person ought to say, look like, and be. I’m certainly not ever going to claim that I’m on the level of someone like Oswald Chambers. I don’t eat, sleep, and breath the Word of God. I don’t spend every waking moment of my life reading the Bible. I wish I could tell you that I’m this perfectly squared away Christian, but the fact is I still have this flesh on me that prevents me from being the goodie two shoes that everyone thinks I am just because I have the title of a pastor in front of my name.
I’ve said time and time again that if you’re looking for the perfect pastor that never misses God then you may as well look for another ministry to follow because I miss God on a regular basis. I’m one of those Christians that needs Jesus because without Him I can’t do anything right. I can tell you, however, that I have a true heart for people, and that I’m as authentic as it gets. I will also be honest enough to say that God’s still working on giving me a softer heart because my heart really was hardened towards people for a long time, and that kind of thing doesn’t change overnight…but over the last several years God has helped me to develop a love for people who only comes from Him. I’m learning how to distribute the love of God that’s been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost.
Look at all the time I’ve spent talking about being authentic with the way we love and care for people, and I’m not even into the message yet. I can’t even get into the message because I can’t get off of the fact that we as the entire Body of Christ is failing at making Christ attractive to the world because of the way we treat one another. I can’t even get into how we treat people in the world because the way we treat one another is an abomination to God. I can say that because it’s not me saying it…it’s Him. He was the One that said that the world would know His disciples by the love they had for ONE ANOTHER…and that would be the reason why the world would be attracted to the church because it would see how loving and kind and friendly we in the Body of Christ are to ONE ANOTHER and want to be a part of it…but when the world doesn’t see a difference between the way the Body of Christ treats people and the way the night club treats people…guess what…people are going to continue to be attracted to the nightclub instead of the church.
How in the world can we even talk about being the kind of people who would rip off the roof for a friend when we find it an inconvenience to call them to see if they’d like to go out for a cup of coffee? There’s no way we can talk about the kind of friendship it takes to do what this paralytic man’s friends did for him when we can barely make time to find out how to treat one another with respect and dignity and honor. Because the reality is these friends of this man loved him so much that they were willing to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus.
We aren’t even willing to do whatever it takes to lead the man sitting at the bar from the time it opens to the minute it closes to Jesus, but we want to talk like we’d rip the roof off of a house to get someone healed!?! We find it an imposition to talk to that man holding the cardboard sign. We look down on people because they have sores on their arms from being filthy or shooting up drugs, but we withhold the one thing from them that can change their lives forever. We don’t do whatever it takes to see our family members and friends and co-workers saved, but we can stand in church on Sunday?
There are so many that talk about ministering to the lost, but they don’t understand that Jesus never told us to pray people into the church. He told us to go into all the world and get them. He told us to go to them not pray them into the church. We have to be willing to roll up our sleeves, get into the muck and mire with the world, and for God’s sake get some people out of their situations. Praying for revival is great…but we need to put some action into what we’re praying…we need to be willing to rip the roof off of a building to get people to the Master…but are we?
Are we willing to fight through the crowds? Are we willing to stand out from the crowd? Are we willing to get out hands dirty? Are we really willing to do whatever it takes to get our friends, family members, and loved ones to Jesus? When is the last time you invited a neighbor or co-worker to church?
I think I might actually be able to get into the message now. No, friends, all that wasn’t the message…but it was indeed a pretty good side journey. Actually, you know what, I’m going to stay right here where I’m at because there’s something that’s written by the devotional this series is based on of that I think is important to add here because it basically sums up what I just said…
The four men who carried the paralyzed man cared more about their friend’s well being than any obstacles that lay before them. The teachers of the law, however, cared more about themselves and their own knowledge than anything else. Indeed, it is a great reminder that ‘knowledge puffs up while love builds up.’
I don’t think there’s any argument that there is a segment of people in the church today that’s exactly like the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day. They care more about themselves and the knowledge they have and how religious they look and sound and keeping the traditions and looking the part of a teacher of the law, but their love is cold. They’re all puffed up about how great they are and how people should feel blessed to be in their presence. They know all the church lingo because they’re “too blessed to be stressed” and they have this fake, inauthentic smile about them.
Then there’s the segment of the Body of Christ that’s real and authentic. It gets a bad reputation because those who are teachers and ought to be examples are really the wrong examples because (as Jesus pointed out) they look the part, but in reality they’re filthy and empty vessels that have no real love for anyone other than themselves. So, those in the Body of Christ who really do try their best to let the love of God that’s shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost actually be shed abroad…they’re overshadowed by those that have given the church a bad reputation therefore ruining the church’s ability to witness to people because the bad apples have destroyed the reputation of the good ones.
If we want to attract the world to the church then we have to start treating our own people in the church better than the world treats it’s own. Otherwise, they just see a bunch of law teachers who have never really had their lives impacted by the grace, mercy, and love of God. So many in the world call people of the church hypocrites simply because the way they treat people doesn’t line up with the way Jesus treated them. It may just be that we need to study Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to remind ourselves of how Jesus treated people…and then ask Him to help us imitate Him. Help us love people as He loved them, help us to treat people the way we would want to be treated, and ultimately to remember that how we treat one another has a direct relationship to how we are treating God.
Remember these words and I’ll close with them: “
Those who have done so to the least of these has also done so unto Me.” – Jesus
It’s never easy to write a message when I know that I’m getting ready to scold the Body of Christ as a whole, but no matter what it is God wants me to write…I’ll write it. I’d rather be honest and have people offended because I wrote the truth then to offend God because I refused to be bold enough to trust Him with the results. I surely hope that by the time we’re done with this message, and answering these questions that we have an idea of how we can make the church more attractive to the world. It’s not about programs and outreaches unless those programs and outreaches are done with the love and heart of God. As Paul writes we can do all those things and still have them be worthless if we’re not doing them out of a heart of love. Right!?!
- What are some of the things that we really need to care about in our lives?
- Prayerfully ask God who he wants us to show care to this season.
- How can we practically help and care for them?
- Pray that we can bring our non-believing family members, friends and colleagues to Jesus so that they can receive the ultimate healing; the forgiveness of sin and to be made right with God.
Father, help me to be more caring, and less judgmental. Open opportunities for me to show genuine care to my family, friends and colleagues. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Final Word from Pastor B:
As I close out this message I think it is important that we first make sure that our relationship with God is right because if that relationship isn’t right then our relationship with one another isn’t going to be right. So, first and foremost, we need to be sure that we’re loving God with a passion that would rip the roof off of a house to get to Him. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to love Him that way because it’s actually the first of the greatest commandments. Love God with ALL of your heart, ALL of your soul, ALL of your mind, and with ALL of your strength. In other words, we’re to love God with every fiber of our being, and as we know from 1 John 4:8 part of loving God is loving one another because if we say we love God, but don’t love one another…the Bible says that we’re liars…and God isn’t really our God. I didn’t say that the Bible did…and if you’re upset by that maybe you should seek God as to why that is.
So, the first step in loving others in a way that attracts the world to the church is making sure we’re loving God, and part of that first step is loving others because in order to truly love God we have to truly love others. We can’t fake it to make it…we truly and authentically have to love. It’s not a suggestion it’s a commandment. We love God by keeping His commandments. What are His commandments!?! Love Him and love others. The second step is to ask God to help us to discover and distribute that love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Finally…we have to ask God’s help in releasing that love.
We will begin to attract the world to the church when we are truly acting like His disciples, and as He says the way we do that is by loving one another in a way that’s different from the world. The world holds us to a higher standard whether we want to be held to it or not. They know when we’re authentic, and they know when we’re faking it to make it. As one of my pastor’s always says people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…and I always add to it that they have to know that your love for them is genuine and authentic because they can find phony love anywhere…but the church is the place they should always be able to find that 1 Corinthians 13 love…and when they can’t they would much rather just stay where they are.
We have to change that if we’re going to draw the world into the church, Amen!?!
Well alright! We’re one full week into our Lent series, and so far the messages have been fantastic. I don’t know if I’ll ever write anything that’ll reach the status that 7 Hebrew Words for Praise has, but I really enjoy writing these messages. I think having to write every day has begun to rekindle the passion for writing that I had when I started the ministry. I surely hope y’all enjoy these messages as much as I enjoy writing them. Even the tough love messages like this one I had to write tonight.
Anyways, I hope y’all will join me again tomorrow as we work our way into the second week of this series as we countdown to Resurrection Sunday walking through this Lent series. I open tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be able to get tomorrow’s message written and posted a little earlier than today’s! Thank you as always for your prayers and patience, and I hope y’all will start going to https://www.createspace.com/6896095, and buy my book. It’s only $10, and every penny that comes in from the sale of that book is going to go towards ministry costs.
Friends, please don’t think that just because I’m working that I no longer need your help and support of the ministry. No matter what you think it’s not free to operate a ministry even if it’s one that online. At the basics, I have an internet and electric bill that keeps the lights on, the computer on, and keeps me connected to the internet. Then there’s the rent we have to pay to keep a roof over our head, the bill we have to pay to keep clean clothes on our bodies, hot and cold water in our sinks and showers, but y’all think that just because Christlike Ministries NWA is online that we don’t have any ministry expenses…I can’t even get into doing some of the outreach things I’d like to do because there’s no money to do them. I can’t upgrade the ministry website because there isn’t money to do those things. Running a ministry takes money, friends, and that’s one of the reasons I went ahead with the idea of making 7 Hebrew Words for Praise into a book.
So, please take the time to visit the link and purchase a copy of 7 Hebrew Words for Praise, and while you’re getting the first published work of Pastor B you’re also sowing into the ministry. I need more people to buy my book because buying my book will help fund the ministry. I can’t say it anymore honestly then that. And with that, I’ll ask y’all to please pray about it. Maybe you don’t want to buy the book, but you feel the Lord tugging on your heart to sow into the ministry. You can do that by writing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll share with you how you can do that.
Thank y’all for your time. I know it’s late and this message has gone kind of long, but I appreciate y’all for getting all the way to the end of this one anyways. I love and appreciate you, and hope y’all have a great night and for those on the other side of the world I hope y’all are getting ready to have an amazing day in the Lord! For now, good night from Arkansas, and God Bless!
Blessings & Grace ~ Pastor B