Following Jesus Comes With Risks


THE RISK OF FEAR –

Many people today are refusing to acknowledge Jesus in their lives because of the fear of other people’s opinions.

They are ashamed to be associated with Christ Jesus in public but attempt to confess Him when they find a need for Him when chaos is breaking loose in their lives.  Jesus describes them in Matthew 15:8 – “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” [NIV]

Everyone who comes face to face with Christ (via media, radio, tv, internet, church, Preacher, blogger, etc.) must do one of two things concerning Him.  Either confess Him or deny Him.  There’s no neutral ground.

During the final few months of Jesus’ life, He traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem along with His followers where He was crucified.  On their journey, Jesus gave them some very important teaching regarding DISCIPLESHIP.

That brings me to our Bible study and the risks involved in following Christ.

LUKE 12:8-12 (NIV)

[8] “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  [9] But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.  [10] And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  [11] “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,  [12] for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

WARNING…NO HELMET SYSTEM CAN PREVENT CONCUSSIONS OR ELIMINATE THE RISKS OF SERIOUS HEAD OR NECK INJURIES WHILE PLAYING FOOTBALL…”

Schutt Sports, a major supplier of football helmets for the National Football League (NFL), on their website page has inserted a WARNING LABEL and goes on to give information on the symptoms for concussions and concludes with these words:  TO AVOID THESE RISKS…DO NOT ENGAGE IN THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL.

At least this company is honest about the RISKS involved in playing football.

Similarly, the Bible is honest about the RISKS involved in following Jesus.

Paraphrasing, the Bible says, “To avoid the risks of discipleship, don’t engage in following Jesus!”

DISCIPLESHIP IS GOING TO COST YOU!

Following Jesus means opening yourself up to opposition, ridicule, resentment, harm, injury, and even death!

During Jesus’ ministry, He experienced growing opposition and persecution even from His half-siblings–His own family (Mark 3:21).  He noticed that His disciples were becoming increasingly fearful–even standoffish in some cases as they saw what was happening to their teacher.

So, He used His disciples not to FEAR people, but instead to FEAR and REVERENCE God knowing that God cared for each one of them (Luke 12:47).

Then He urged His DISCIPLES to acknowledge Him before men.

I’ve found it interesting when pastors today give an invitation for accepting Jesus as their Savior at the end of Sunday Services with “every head bowed,” [‘no peaky’] and proceeds to encourage the hand raisers to “acknowledge Jesus as Savior before men”!

How does one do that?  And if they don’t do as suggested, what then?

The analysis of ACKNOWLEDGING Christ Jesus before others have both a positive and negative aspect.

I’ve always voted when asked for the “positive” first before the “negative”.

Jesus said in verse 8,  “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others…” 

Jesus puts our relationship to Him in an eternal perspective.  I like the way the Amplified Bible reads:

“Whoever declares openly [speaking out freely] and confesses that he is My worshiper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God.”

“ACKNOWLEDGE, DECLARE, PROCLAIM”…the point lies in doing it “before men”!  And if we acknowledge Him before others here on earth, then that will lead to Him acknowledging us before the tribunal of heaven.  WOW!

The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9 (NIV)

To DECLARE Christ Jesus before others mean that we do ALL THESE THINGS, whatever we do, whether it’s at work or at school or at home or at play, we do it ALL for Jesus.

Jesus’ PROMISE –

When we confess Christ before men, then He will declare us at the Last Day.

What a precious promise that is for every believer!

On the day we die, as we stand before Almighty God, everything about us will be revealed.  All our past sins–even those that are secret–will be exposed.  Each one of us will be condemned by God’s Law, condemned by our sin, condemned by our conscience, condemned by Satan himself.  We will stand before God without HOPE.

BUT…and this is a glorious “but”…if we’ve acknowledged Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior on earth, then Jesus will rise up in our defense!  He will tell the Father and all the angels that we belong to Him by faith.

He will tell the tribunal of heaven because of our FAITH in Him because we’ve received the gospel because we’ve acknowledged Him on earth.

He is acknowledging to all in heaven we belong to Him!

His MERIT covers ALL our faults, our iniquities, our sin and we must be accepted into heaven because of what He has done for us.

Not Acknowledging Christ Before Men Comes With Recompense.

This is the negative aspect of not declaring Christ before man.  Jesus said in verse 9,  “…he who disowns and denies and rejects and refuses to acknowledge Me before men will be disowned and denied and rejected and refused acknowledgment in the presence of the angels of God.”  [AMP]

What does it mean to “deny” Him before men?

It means that we don’t stand with or for Jesus.  It means that we don’t acknowledge that we’re Christians.  It means that when people speak against Christ and Christianity in our every-day-world, we remain silent, making excuses for all the reasons why we shouldn’t acknowledge Him.

“I don’t want them to think I’m a religious nut!”

You can add to this list, I’m sure.

Jesus says that if we don’t acknowledge Him we DENY Him!

And if we “deny” Him, He will “deny” us!

The Principles Laid Down In Acknowledging Christ Before Men –  (Luke 12:10)

VERSE 10 is a difficult verse to understand at first.  That said, I find TWO PRINCIPLES that come into play here.

There’s SIN that’s FORGIVEABLE (Luke 12:10 (a)).

I think Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College and author explains it best when he said, “To speak against the Son of Man is to speak against Jesus Christ without fully understanding who He is or what He has done.”  This isn’t the full and final denial as illustrated by Judas in verse 9.  Nevertheless, to speak a word against the Son of Man is SIN.  But…and here’s the good news…it is a SIN God can and will forgive.

Almost all Christians spoke a word against Jesus before coming to saving faith in Him.  But as soon as we fully understood who He was and what He did, we repented of what we said and received forgiveness from Him.

There’s SIN that’s UNFORGIVABLE (Luke 12:10 (b) ).

Here comes the “BUT”–“…but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  This is where there’s been some misunderstanding.

What does it mean to “blaspheme” against the Holy Spirit?  What does this one particular sin, this one blasphemy, make it impossible to repent and be forgiven?  What about blasphemy against the Son of God, or God the Father, or angels, or Scripture, or the church?

Why only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

I think it’s because of the unique and decisive role the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation.  If we look to God the Father and then turn from His glory and embrace sin, that’s bad!  If we look to His Son, Jesus, who He sent into the world and then have turned away from His glory and embrace sin, that’s doubly bad!!

But in either case, there’s hope–the Father has planned redemption and the Son has accomplished redemption.  This redemption is outside of ourselves and available to us as long as we repent of our sin and turn back to Christ in faith.

But it’s a unique and special role of the Holy Spirit plays in our lives to apply the Father’s plan and Son’s accomplishment of it to our hearts.

It’s the Holy Spirit’s work to open our eyes, to grant repentance, to make us beneficiaries for all the Father and Son have done for us.

John Piper gives this definition for the Unforgivable Sin:

The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that He withdraws forever with His convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.

Sometimes people worry they have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit and have committed a sin that’s unforgivable.  The fact that a person is worrying that he or she might have blasphemed is an indication that he or she hasn’t done so.

A person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit is so vehemently opposed to Christ that he believes Jesus is from Satan.  And that sin will not be forgiven!  [See Mark 3:20-35]

The Risk of Hostility in Persecution – (12:11a).

“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities…”

Jesus was preparing His disciples for persecution.  It was going to be inevitable that persecution was going to come.  In fact. this happened shortly after Jesus. death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven when Peter and John were arrested and hauled before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1).  The apostles were often arrested for their faith in Christ Jesus.

But Help Is On Its Way! – (12:11b-12:12)

[11b]  “…do not be anxious [beforehand] how you shall reply in defense or what you are to say.  [12] For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what [you] ought to say”  (AMP).

Although Jesus’ promise was particularly directed to the apostles, it also applies in principle to ALL disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ.

We can trust the Holy Spirit to help us whenever we speak for Jesus. 

You may feel inadequate or ill-prepared or not very knowledgeable of God’s Word.  That’s not the point! It’s the matter of telling what you know about Jesus in a personal way and pray that the Holy Spirit will take what you say–however inadequate it may be–to do His saving work in other peoples lives.

Finally, Taking A Stand for Jesus Christ.

God is calling His disciples–that’s you and me–to take a stand for His Son Jesus!

Acknowledge Him, declare His name with your lips that He is Lord and Savior of your life.

He is calling you to live for Jesus and speak for Jesus in your home, in your office, in your playground, in your neighborhood, and in your school.

And remember, when you do so, you have the glorious PROMISE that Jesus will take a stand for you on the day you appear before God in heaven.

____________________________________________

CREDITS ~

Commentary:  The Power to Risk in the Cause of Christ/John Piper quote – Desiring God.com

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or where noted in the text or images.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search – copyrights may apply.

 

The ‘god-shaped’ Heart in Every Person

TEXT – Acts 14:11-17  (NIV Bible):

Statue of ZEUS
Statue of ZEUS

[11] When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language,  “The gods have come down to us in human form!”   [12] Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.  [13] The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  [15] “Men, why are you doing this?  We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  [16] In the past, He let all nations go their own way.  [17] Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

LIVING IN AN ILLUSION:

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/
wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

There was a movie a few years ago, with the actor/comedian Jim Carey as the lead, The Truman Show.  The storyline was about a man named Truman Burbank who was adopted as a newborn by a large Corporation.

The corporation created an entire city on the movie set with 5000 cameras, then placing Truman in the artificial city without Truman knowing it was all a fake.

Of course Truman goes through life in Seahaven (the artificial city), thinking everything and everyone around him are real.  Truman was perfectly happy and content for 30 years, with a perfect sky, a computer controlled climate, and a wife and friend who are really actors, and so forth.  I think you get the picture.  It is the only REALITY Truman knows!

At least until a series of accidents start and Truman’s questioning of this “REALITY”, and he finally begins figuring it out for himself and walks off the set into the REAL WORLD.

“Is belief in God like Truman in The Truman Show?”  Some people think so.  Critics claim it’s all because… it is the only reality that “religious” people have been presented.

The movie set experience of “organized religion” has meticulously manufactured and manipulated circumstances, causing people to live in the ILLUSION of God.

These same critics point out, there’s no denying that people who say they BELIEVE IN GOD are real, are happy, and content…even as Truman was happy and content in his world.

However, behind the set, there are merely human directors who are pulling the strings, orchestrating all the right circumstances to make BELIEF in God appear real.  Whether that’s true or not, I’m only pointing out what some people are saying about Christianity.

TRUE LIBERATION…

True liberation comes as it did for Truman; to turn our back on our make-believe world and venture into the real world…a world without organized religion pulling the strings.

CHURCHES shouldn’t be an ORGANIZATION in the first place.  They should be considered an ORGANISM–a living, breathing, GOD creative entity.

The American Population Believes that God Exists!

At least 95% do (Gallup and Lindsay 25).  According to George Gallup’s 1999 poll, interest in God and spirituality is on the rise, not declining (10). Yet when we begin to ask what kind of God is that exists, people are less sure.

Some people envisions of God is impersonal, like the FORCE in the movie Star Wars.  Or view God as a benevolent Santa Claus, a God that has no higher goal than our happiness and success.

THE STRAIGHT TALK PRESENTED IN THE BIBLE’S TEACHING:

The Bile clearly teaches that knowing God is for real; that He’s NOT our fulfillment as an elaborate scheme orchestrated by people, like myself.

God’s Calling Cards (Acts 14:15-17):

LystraMap0302In the city of LYSTRA, which was basically an isolated, unimportant, backwoods area of the Roman Empire.  People living there were all illiterate, superstitious, and accustomed to a rural way of life.

When Paul and his friend Barnabas arrive, God enables Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit, to perform a MIRACLE, where a disabled man was suddenly able to walk.  People were so amazed, their superstition takes over and they try to WORSHIP Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods Zeus and Hermes.

Paul and Barnabas are only messengers…ordinary guys bringing the message of the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) of God.

Now the citizens of Lystra weren’t JEWISH, they didn’t know the Old Testament story of God creating the heavens and earth, of God choosing Abraham in establishing the nation of Israel.

The Challenge…

Instead, they were PAGANS…worshipping the traditional Greek and Roman gods.

Paul’s challenge to the populace was to turn from their “worthless” superstitions, to the LIVING GOD.   In case you’re wondering, the word “worthless” here means: EMPTY, UNPROFITABLE, VAIN , AIMLESS , HOLLOW- the “absences of purpose or ground or failure to attain any true purpose.[See Footnotes [i]].

Their WORSHIP was empty, hollow, because it was just words– Zeus and Hermes and the other gods didn’t exist in reality.  BUT, the LIVING GOD is the God who is SELF-EXISTENT; the God who depends on no one!  All because He is the LIVING GOD; He created ALL life, whether it’s life in the air, life on earth, or the life in the sea.

Lystra, Turkey in today's setting
Lystra, Turkey in today’s setting

God had been working through the nation of Israel up to this point.  He allowed the rest of the nations to go their own way.  God was preparing the way of the birth of His Messiah, His Son, to bring God’s blessing to the rest of the nations.  But until then, God wasn’t directly reaching out to other nations.

Take Heart…God Hadn’t Abandoned the other Nations!

God left a WITNESS of Himself among ALL PEOPLE everywhere.  God had left the nations evidence, “CALLING CARDS” about His existence.

So how can we know GOD is for real?  Where is the EVIDENCE?

Because of His “calling cards” He left us to see.  God’s fingerprints are all over the world we live in…IF, we take the time to investigate.  No one clue is inclusive in itself.  It becomes the cumulative effect of these clues that builds a strong case that GOD IS FOR REAL!

If God made the EVIDENCE His existence so conclusive, every rational person had to BELIEVE.  But God wants people to BELIEVE in Him freely, out of LOVE, so He leaves enough evidence for the seeker to know He’s there.

The EVIDENCE Can be easily Overlooked…

If you’re not looking, not seeking and you don’t want to see it…the EVIDENCE can be easily overlooked.

GOD’S REVELATION:

“For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.  For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made–His handiworks.  So [men] are without excuse–altogether without any defense or justification”  (Romans 1:19-20 AMP).

THE PEOPLE OF ROME:

In many ways the people of Rome were similar to the people of Lystra, except the people of Rome were educated, civilized pagans.

In the context, Paul is describing why God’s wrath against sin was being revealed against ALL PEOPLE everywhere, religious and irreligious alike.

In the verses above, Paul tells us that certain things about God can be known once for all.  Even though God’s WHOLENESS might not be known because human minds are limited and confined–a MYSTERY (Romans 16:25-27).

But there are certain things we can know about God; these things include God’s eternal POWER and the invisible characteristics that make God who He is!

God makes these things “PLAIN” TO ALL PEOPLE!

The word “plain” means obvious, evident, clear and well-known.  God’s attributes aren’t only for the “spiritually” endowed Christian, but according to Paul, they’re evident to everyone.

God is invisible and unknowable, yet God made Himself both visible and knowable through the created world.  [See Footnote [ii]]

Because of this, no one can say, “But I didn’t know.”  So this passage of Scripture in Romans 1:19-20, is taking us a step further than the previous verses given in Acts.

Paul’s not just saying the universe contains the EVIDENCE, but we can know God is real because He reveals Himself …THROUGH THE UNIVERSE. In other words, God is actively speaking through His creation, making His invisible attributes visible and clear.

HOW FOCUSING ON THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD:

The BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S POWER–

10676205_10152749633038426_3880646600123989561_nAll physicists today believe in the “BIG BANG”–that the universe spontaneously came into being by an enormous explosion.  Beyond the “big bang”, physicists are speechless, because that’s delving into an unknown world of MYSTERY.  Yet it makes perfect sense the big bang was generated by a God of ETERNAL POWER in the verses of Romans 1.

The COMPLEXITY OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM–

The more we learn about the physical world around us, the more complex we realize it is.  One strand of DNA contains enough information to fill all the textbooks available.  But the COMPLEXITY is so finely tuned…perfectly designed for life to exist.

This REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM designing such a complex world in such a way, enabling LIFE to flourish.

Finally, THE MORAL ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S JUSTICE–

Our internal sense of right and wrong, that inner moral compass, reveals the fact that we live in a moral universe with the sense of right and wrong.  Growing up as a child, my parents would say “just follow your conscience Mel.”

Since some things are MORALLY right and some things are MORALLY wrong, it points to a LAWGIVER, a morally JUST Being who created right and wrong (Genesis 3).

Now the question immediately arose when I was doing my investigation, if God makes Himself clear that He is the Creator of the Universe, why are there atheists and agnostics everywhere I turn these days?

ATHEISM is a form of denial.  Just like alcoholics who become more and more blind to their problem the more they drink, we become more and more blind to God’s Light the more we sin against God.  Eventually, we reach the point we truly believe God’s not real just like the alcoholic reaches the point he truly believes he doesn’t have a drinking problem.

BEING A SEEKER (Acts 17:26-28):

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that man would SEEK Him and perhaps REACH out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

Paul is saying to the Athenians, we ALL come from a common ancestor.

Now the Athenians were defensive and believed that their race was superior to all others.  They didn’t need another god–they already had plenty to bow down to as it was!

But Paul claims we all share an ancestry that God Himself was responsible in arranging the basic circumstances of our lives.  God did this so we would SEEK Him.

God’s PURPOSE in placing you and I in this time, and this place, this part of the world we reside, and as you are reading this blog-POST, was for you to SEEK HIM!

God designed us to not only SEEK, but to REACH for Him.  The word “REACH” describes the groping and fumbling of a blind person.  Left to our own resources, we are not equipped to actually find God.  But like blind people, we’re trying to hike an unknown mountain trail without a guide and we’ll get lost along the way.  So we if we SEEK without a guide, we are unable to find God.

But the good news is, God is never distant:  “We are His offspring.”

WE KNOW GOD IS REAL BECAUSE we were made to SEEK HIM–

There’s a “god-shaped vacuum” in the heart of every person.  God designed each and everyone to SEEK HIM.

Doing things your way…

IF GOD IS REAL, then the parallel to The Truman Show is correct, except it’s those who reject God’s existence that are living in a manufactured world.

It is those who are in REBELLION against God, who are avoiding Him because they want to live their lives, using a lyric from an old song…“My way” and where they are hiding in a make-believe world of DENIAL.

The Calling as a Church…?

Our calling isn’t to DEFEND God–He is perfectly able to do that Himself–we are to introduce people to a relationship with JESUS so they, like Truman Burbank, walk off their Seahaven set and venture into the REAL WORLD, the world God created and designed to live in.  GOD’S KINGDOM.

 

 

Footnotes:  

[i]  Strong’s Concordance #3152

Photos:

The Truman Show – Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

Photo MAPS – Bible History Maps/Lystra-Derbe @ biblehistory.com/Lystra

UNIVERSE – hublesite.org/telescope/

 

 

 

 

Enochlophobia: The Fear of Crowds

Rally To Restore Sanity
Overwhelmed!

Albert Einstein once said, “I hate crowds and making speeches“.  There’s a common feeling with Mr. Einsteins called “enochlophobia”–the fear of crowds. Those who suffer with this anxiety go out of their way to avoid places such as malls, theaters, or any event that crowds would regularly attend; no matter who  the center and focus of attention for the throng.   Many times in my experiences, I too had anxiety in a crowd.  Maybe NOT fear, but felt hemmed in; crowded and nervous about being so close.  All the touching became too much.  I didn’t need a REASON.

A few things will happen when FEAR arises in a crowded area:

*  Being trampled to death.

*  Contracting a deadly virus.

*  Getting lost in a massive crowd of people.

*  They themselves feel small and insignificant when surrounded by so many people.

BUT, there is definitely a CHOICE that can made in overcoming standing out in the crowd.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING “HEMMED IN”  AND TOUCHING JESUS:

Immanuel – God with Us (Isaiah 7:14)

The writer of The Letter To The Hebrews in the Bible had this to say about ImmanuelGod with us:

“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning”  (Hebrews 4:15 AMP).

*  No longer was he a God that was way up in the heavens somewhere.

*  No longer was he a God that was impersonal.

*  No longer was he a God that was distant.

*  No longer was he a God that couldn’t be touched.

Have you witnessed up close how a newborn baby’s hands reach out in eagerness to touch their mom or dad when they come near?

My wife and I just became great grandparents for the first time this past summer.  It was Deja vu— seeing Jaxon for the first time and remembering when our children were babes.  Smiling, reaching out in need for a touch!

Anticipating A Touch
Anticipating A Touch  when becoming great grandparents for the first time.  So it was Deja vu moment from our own children when they were babes.

But on a day in Bethlehem, JESUS burst on the scene in a manger, longing for and crying out for somebody to TOUCH HIM!  I have GOOD NEWS for you today.  In fact, He is here right now!

The devil thought he had killed Him, but the fact is…

I feel Him in my hands…

I feel Him in my feet…

I feel Him in my Soul..

I feel Him all over my life.

GOD IS NOT DEAD, HE IS ALIVE AND WELL!

Right now where you are sitting as you read my thoughts, He wants for someone to reach out and TOUCH HIM in faith.  He is as close as the mention of His name–JESUS.

He is still able to…

*  Heal your body.

*  Mend your broken heart.

*  Fix your messed up life.

*  Put your marriage back together.

*  Save your children.

*  Work on your behalf.

*  Make the impossible situation where you might find yourself…POSSIBLE!

He can do it if you TOUCH HIM where you are today.  Unless, you are intimidated by crowds.  “What will other think if I step out in faith?”  They might even think I’m a religious fanatic.

BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “THRONGING” AND “TOUCHING”

Thronging means:  “A large group of people gathered or crowed closely together, a multitude; to PRESS IN ON.”  ~ Online Dictionary.

The Bible tells us a story about a man who we refer to as, “rich young ruler”:

Mark 10:17-22:

[17]  And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him,  Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  [18] And Jesus said unto Him,  Why callest thou Me good?  There is none good but one, that is, God.  [19] Thou knowest the commandments,  Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  [20] And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  [21] Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him,  One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  [22] And he was sad  at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions.  (King James Bible)

Let’s ‘zero in’ on this story and see if this young man TOUCHED JESUS, or just crowded or “thronged” around Him:

The FIRST THING I noticed about this man, was he was…DISSATISFIED – vs. 17-20:

*  HE CAME RUNNING.

*  HE KEPT THE LAW…BUT WAS NOT HAPPY.

*  SOMETHING WAS STILL MISSING.

(So many people I run into are unhappy with the way things are turning out or not turning out in their lives.)

The SECOND THING I noticed about this young man is…DISAPPOINTED – VS. 21-22:

*  The TERMS WERE DISAPPOINTING in his HEARING.

*  “GO AND SELL”.

*  COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW.

*  TRAGEDY.

*  SO CLOSE TO JESUS and yet…

*  WENT AWAY SORROWFUL WITHOUT TOUCHING.

The THIRD THING I noticed was DENIAL:

*  In the present – Life of joy and peace.

*  Future – Eternal life; a life in Heaven.

This is a man who never really touched Jesus.  Maybe shook His hand, patted Him on the shoulder, but never really TOUCHED JESUS; never took the time to have a relationship with JESUS.  (Many people know how to play in church but never TOUCH JESUS because of their relationship.)

THE TEXT today is from MARK 5:24-34 ~ NIV…  “A Woman in the Crowd”:

[24] A large crowd followed and pressed around Him.  [25] And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  [26] She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak,  [28] because she thought,  “If I just TOUCH His clothes,” I will be healed.”  [29] Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”  [30] At once Jesus realized that POWER had gone out from Him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked,  “Who TOUCHED Me?”  [32] But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  [33] Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth.  [34] He said to her,  “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 

This Bible story tells us about a woman with the issue of blood:

Distressed – vs. 25-26

12 years of suffering, sickness, pain, discomfort.  Not all of her problems were according to the religious Laws of her day.

A woman with her sickness:

–  Sexually – she could not touch her husband.

–  Maternally – no longer could bear children.

– Domestically – anything she touched was considered unclean and she couldn’t take care of her family.

– Socially – considered unclean.

– Spiritually – was not allowed in the temple [church].

She was physically exhausted and socially ostracized.  She tried many different doctors without her desired results.  The Talmud gives 11 different cures for her condition and one of them was carrying the ashes of an Ostrich Egg in a linen cloth.

She was broke–spent all she had and she was getting worse!

Determined – vs. 27-28

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You Must Reach Out and Touch

The news had spread from all around of Jesus’ healing, casting out demons across the Lake of Galilee and here He was…in Person, getting out of a boat, on not any beach, but on this beach–her beach.

Even the local pastor was the first to greet Jesus after He set His feet on the warm sand.  His name was Jairus, whose little daughter was at the point of death.  And as Jesus went to go with the father, “a great crowd kept following…pressing Him from all sides [so as almost to suffocate Him]”  (Amplified Bible).  EVERYONE gathered…WANTED TO SEE JESUS!

A DECISION HAD TO BE MADE:

*  It was therefore obvious, the woman heard about Jesus.

*  If He could do it for them, He could certainly do it for me.

*  She had Heart FAITH.

*  Went to where He was.

*  I’m not going to WAIT for Jesus to come to me, but I’m going to TOUCH HIM, crowd or no crowd!

*  She TOUCHED Him!

Psychiatrists sometimes say, that if a person is diagnosed with Enochlophobia [women are said to outnumber men considerably in being diagnosed], all that is needed when in a throng is,,,a CALMING TOUCH by someone close to relieve the anxiety.

Did this woman, diseased with a ‘blood disorder’, have Enochlophobia?  I don’t know, but she was definitely DETERMINED to TOUCH JESUS, regardless of her condition or what others might think or do to her.

STAND –  She Was Delivered!  In the Midst of a Crowd!

This woman who TOUCHED Jesus’ garment; the fringe on His Tallit or prayer shawl; wherever the TOUCH was instantly and completely healed.  God recognized a simple TOUCH OF FAITH  among many people who were in the crowd that day.  They too probably had personal needs they wanted met just like this lady but didn’t want to chance what their neighbors might think if they did.

What was the difference?  She was delivered because she had TOUCHED Jesus.  Her fears of being in a CROWD (reasons already stated) had disappeared.  Not because of her close proximity to the Master, but because of her up close and personal TOUCH.

The Difference Between Being in a Congregation or Church Assembly…and Simply TOUCHING Jesus.

FAITH ALWAYS TOUCHES JESUS–

He knows the difference between bumping against someone in a crowded room and a TOUCH OF FAITH of a soul in need.  BUT you have to TOUCH Him first.  He is here where you and I are right now, but it is our job to reach out and TOUCH HIM.

JESUS was on His way to an important man’s house.  What are the odds that Jesus is ever going to stop by and touch this lady in fear–not very good. But she…but she touched Him.  Rank had no importance to Jesus when it came to a personal trust of faith in Him.  As you read on further in the chapter, Jesus didn’t forget the need of Jarius and his daughter.  But in the right now…this woman became the example because of a TOUCH.

In the Right Now!

JESUS is here right where you are sitting.  Doesn’t matter what your condition is:  no matter your fears, no matter what people might think when you step out from where you have been in life.

Need healing in your body?

Need healing in your spirit?

What is your NEED?  The sharing of that NEED in a crowd, taking a STAND, stepping out in FAITH… might bring you FEAR!  All you need is a gentle touch of faith where you are and any phobia will melt away.

YOU CAN STRETCH FORTH YOUR HAND AND TOUCH HIM.  A TOUCH OF FAITH!

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