Bringing People to Jesus (3)

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‘When they could not find a way … they went up on the roof.’ Luke 5:19 NIV

When you pick up the weight of another person, it can be a heavy burden to bear. Notice: (1) It took four people to bring this man to Jesus. Sometimes you have to call in reinforcements. When you’ve prayed for someone and nothing seems to be happening, here’s a great Scripture: ‘If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.’ (Matthew 18:19–20 NIV) (2) It was their faith, not the sick man’s faith that Jesus responded to. ‘When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”’ (Luke 5:20 NIV) The poor guy had been in this condition for so long that his faith was probably as dead as his limbs. But that’s no problem for God; He’ll respond to your faith by touching your loved one. (3) They refused to give up on him. You need tenacious faith that refuses to quit. Just because you talked to someone about the Lord before and they didn’t respond, doesn’t mean they won’t respond now. Maybe they weren’t ready back then, and now their circumstances have changed. Maybe you went about it the wrong way, and now you have a better approach. The point is, when you do your part, God will do His. ‘So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.’ (Galatians 6:9 GNT)

Bringing People to Jesus (2)

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‘They came… bringing a paralytic… carried by four.’ Mark 2:3 NKJV

Some people have to be ‘carried’ to Jesus because they can’t get to Him by themselves. Like the man in the story, they are paralysed. ‘Paralysed by what?’ you ask. Paralysed by an out-of-control behaviour. Paralysed by a belief system that tells you you’re too sinful for God to ever love and redeem you. Paralysed by the memory of something that happened in your childhood and now you’re afraid to talk about it. Paralysed by an addiction to illegal substances, prescription drugs, gambling, pornography, alcohol, work, or money. Whatever your addiction—one thing is for sure—it’s paralysing. You can be paralysed by fear, anxiety, depression, a bottomed-out sense of self-worth, or a nightmarish childhood of neglect and abuse. On the other hand, you can be a self-made man or woman paralysed by success, materialism, greed, self-absorption—not acknowledging any need in your life for God. Is any of this hitting close to home? Jesus began His ministry with these words: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ (Luke 4:18–19 NKJV) The New Living Translation of the Bible paraphrases the latter part of verse 19 by saying, ‘the time of the Lord’s favour has come.’ Here’s the good news! Life may not always have been good to you, but God’s grace and smile of favour can change all of that—starting today.

Bringing People to Jesus (1)

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‘The power of the Lord was present to heal them.’ Luke 5:17 NKJV

One day when Jesus was preaching in a certain house, four men brought their paralysed friend so He could heal him. When they couldn’t get through the crowd they climbed up onto the roof, created an opening, lowered the man down to Jesus, and He healed him. The Bible says, ‘The power of the Lord was present to heal them.’ The Pharisees were sitting nearby, and the power of God was present to heal them too, yet they received nothing. It’s amazing, but true; you can be in the presence of Jesus and leave unchanged. Why? Because your attitude and approach determine your results! Pride and preconceived notions—thinking you have God all figured out—can stop you from receiving what you need. Paul says, ‘For indeed the Gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.’ (Hebrews 4:2 NKJV) These religious leaders had no ‘faith’. They were interested in engaging Jesus in theological arguments, not in seeing the power of God demonstrated and this sick man healed. So you can have a head full of theology and a heart filled with doubt, and receive nothing from the Lord! Luke Chapter 5 records: ‘When [Jesus] saw their faith, He said to him… “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up… and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God… saying, “We have seen strange things today!”’ (Luke 5:20–26 NKJV)

Knowing Where You Stand with God

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‘We are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith.’ Romans 5:1 AMP

Until you understand how God views you, you’ll struggle for His approval and worry that you never measure up. Is that how you feel today? If so, meditate on the following Scriptures and let them remove your doubts. (1) ‘Through Him we … become … [acceptable and in right relationship with] [God].’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 AMP) Unworthiness is one of the greatest weapons Satan has against you, so take it out of his hands. In a sense, God has put a screen between you and Himself; it’s the blood of Jesus. And when He looks at you through that screen He sees you as righteous and forgiven of all sins. That’s why we call it ‘amazing grace’. (2) ‘[Righteousness, standing acceptable to God] will be … credited to us … who believe in (trust in, adhere to, and rely on) God.’(Romans 4:24 AMP) Did you get that? All the righteousness needed to get into Heaven—is credited to your account the moment you put your trust in Christ. As a Christian there’s a difference between your position and your condition. When you sin, it affects your condition. But your fixed position is ‘in Christ’ (see Romans 8:1). You say, ‘But what about my shortcomings?’ That’s your condition, and the Holy Spirit is working on it every day (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). Transformation, which means ‘to change form’, is a daily process. And while you’re in that process God views you as righteous! In other words, righteousness isn’t a performance but a position. And God put you into that position the moment He saved you. Now you know where you stand with God.

A Day to Remember, Reflect and Rejoice

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‘You shall bless the Lord for the good land He has given you.’ Deuteronomy 8:10 NKJV

Today we celebrate the blessings of God we enjoy as a nation; blessings paid for in the blood, sweat and tears of our forbears. Note what God said to His people when they entered the promised land: ‘The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments.’ (Deuteronomy 8:10–11 NKJV) Our challenge is not that we are slow learners, but that we are quick forgetters. Here are two all important truths we quickly forget and need to remind ourselves of daily:

First, God is the source of every blessing we enjoy. That’s why He cautioned His people: ‘…then you say in your heart “my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth”. And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish his covenant which He swore to your fathers.’ (Deuteronomy 8:17–18) Every good thing you enjoy—past, present and future—is a gift of grace from God. Every action of God in your life is designed to increase, not decrease, your dependence on Him. The success of every assignment God gives you, depends on His involvement and participation. The apostle Paul acknowledges the secret of his success in these words: ‘not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.’ (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV)

How to Argue Constructively

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‘As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.’ Proverbs 27:17 NLT

Arguments can be either constructive or destructive; it all depends on how you handle them. Many times our relationships fall apart or develop into unending chapters of misery because we either fail to recognise or are unwilling to face our problems before they escalate into emergencies. Rather than discuss what’s not working between us, we get into a conflict and argue about whose fault it is. In contrast to discussion that constructively airs the issues, arguments bring charges and appoint blame, which is destructive. They provoke hurt, anger, defensiveness, aggressive feelings, bitterness, and other strong emotions. That’s why the Bible says, ‘It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.’ (Proverbs 20:3 NIV) Now let’s get real for a second! This side of Heaven none of us will live without differences of opinion and disagreements. Even in the best of relationships you’ll have them. And you must realise that not all conflict stems from wilful behaviour; it often arises through innocent mistakes and simple neglect. Entering into an honest discussion that details the reasons for the conflict helps bring clarity, understanding and appreciation for the other person’s position. Above all, never go deaf! Pay attention to what the other person is saying. There’s nothing worse than having somebody think you’re not listening to them. It’s through open, loving discussion that our opinions about our relationships are honed and clarified. Indeed, the things you refuse to deal with can hurt your relationship more than anything else you do. That’s why the Bible says, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.’

A Sobering Scripture

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‘In the same way you judge others, you will be judged.’ Matthew 7:2 NIV

Here’s a sobering Scripture: ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1 NIV) Jesus was hard on the religionists of His day because they spent their time nit-picking. They condemned the disciples for not washing their hands, and Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Consider Jesus’ response: ‘You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, My decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent Me.’ (John 8:15-16 NIV) So here are some questions you need to answer: ‘Do I judge others based on their actions, and judge myself based on my intentions? When someone’s behaviour doesn’t reflect a choice or decision you’d have made, are you quick to comment? When people don’t move at your pace or do something the way you want it done, do you peg them as lazy and worthless? When you hear something negative about somebody, do you repeat it before checking to see if there’s any truth in it?’ Ben Franklin said, ‘I resolve to speak ill of no man … not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.’ If you’ve a genuine concern for someone who’s going in the wrong direction and have earned the right to address it, do it in the spirit of love. And remember, you earn that right by consistently demonstrating love and care for them.

You Can Make a Difference

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‘I… am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.’ Psalm 102:7 KJV

Do you feel unqualified for the job God has given you? Do you think He picked the wrong person? Many scriptural heroes felt the same. David, whose psalms encourage millions, ‘a man after [God’s] own heart,’ lamented, ‘I … am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.’ It’s hard to imagine a less significant bird, yet Jesus said, ‘Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing.’ (Matthew 10:29 NLT) Charles Swindoll writes: ‘In our… impersonal world it’s easy to underestimate the significance of… one. With so many who seem more capable, gifted, prosperous, and important, who am I to think my part amounts to much? Aren’t you glad Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Irving Berlin, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Wesley, [and Mother Teresa] didn’t think that way?…How many people did it take to help the victim on the Jericho road? How many were chosen to confront Pharaoh and lead the Exodus? How many lost sheep were of concern to the shepherd? How many did God use to prepare the way for the Messiah? Just one! Centuries ago a woman named Esther thought there was nothing she could do. She was the Jewish wife of a Persian king, who was about to be tricked into making a disastrous decision that would exterminate the Jews… Like everyone who stands in the gap, Esther was willing to get involved to the point of sacrifice, and say, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Today ask yourself, “What should I be doing?” You can make a difference.’

Constructive Complaining

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‘So Moses brought their case before the Lord.’ Numbers 27:5 NKJV

When you get a reputation as a complainer, people will begin to avoid you. There’s an interesting story in the Old Testament about the five daughters of Zelophehad. Here was their problem. Their father had died in the wilderness before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. He had no sons to inherit his land, and the law didn’t allow women to receive it. Consequently, without a father, brothers, husbands, sons or other men in their immediate family, Zelophehad’s daughters were left out completely. It wasn’t fair, but it was the law. So rather than complaining to others, the sisters presented their ‘petition for an inheritance’ to Moses and the leaders. And when Moses brought their case before God, He agreed with the women and granted their request (see Numbers 27:1–11). Now, what do you think the outcome would’ve been if they’d gone around whining to everyone and anyone who’d listen instead of going directly to those who could do something about it, namely Moses and God? It’s doubtful they’d have obtained their inheritance. Understand this: God doesn’t reward complainers! The sin of complaining angered Him to the extent He stopped an entire generation of Israelites from inheriting the Promised Land when they were standing on the very threshold. You say, ‘Well, I’ve suffered an injustice, so who should I complain to?’ The Lord, the One who can do something about it! The psalmist wrote, ‘I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.’ (Psalm 142:2 NAS) And that’s the best advice you can take!

If You Don’t Tell Them, Who Will?

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‘This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.’ 2 Kings 7:9 NKJV

The Syrian army had surrounded the city of Samaria and nothing could get in or out. It was a desperate situation. Eventually the inhabitants began starving to death. Four lepers who’d been quarantined and forced to live outside the city walls decided to go into the Syrian camp hoping to find mercy, and maybe food and water. But when they got there they discovered an army of angels had scattered the Syrians, who’d fled leaving behind food, water, clothing and treasure. These four men couldn’t believe their good fortune! They ate, drank, exchanged their rags for fine clothing, gathered treasure and hid it where they could find it later. Then they remembered that in Samaria their own people were hungry, thirsty, needy, sick and dying. And they were faced with the dilemma: Do we keep this all to ourselves, or share it with those who need it as much as we do? ‘Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.”’ Today you will meet someone who’s spiritually hungry, and what they need is Jesus. So what are you going to do about it? If you don’t tell them, who will? If you don’t share the good news they may die spiritually. You say, ‘But I’m timid.’ God used four social outcasts to bring good news of deliverance. And if you let Him, today He will use you too.