Pastor's Blog

February 2019

What are You Doing Down There? Get Up!

She sits in your living room sobbing. Not sure what to do, not sure what to say. But it’s happened again and once again she feels guilty. Christians aren’t supposed to do this. Christians aren’t supposed to sin like this. And as her tears fall onto your carpet, you can’t help but share her feelings. You’ve been there to, face-to-face with your own guilt. Face-to-face with the guilt of the same sin repeated a thousand times before. And whispering a quiet prayer in your soul for your guilt and for the guilt your friend is feeling, you kneel down, put your arm around your friend and say: “My friend, get up, Christ has healed you.” In fact, Christ says this very thing to you, too: “My child, get up, I have healed you: I have forgiven your sins."

The sickness of sin is a serious one. It comes from our sinful nature which is in constant battle with God. And the devil compounds the sickness by clouding the issue with lies like: this sin is too great for God to forgive, or, no Christian would ever repeat the same sin over and over. And in all of this confusion and conflict we can forget that God still loves us despite our sin. And finally this sickness leads ultimately to hell.

But Jesus says to us, “Get up, your sins are forgiven.” It was his job to forgive sins. His very purpose in coming down to earth was to earn God’s favor for the unlovable. His job was to reveal the lies of the devil and show us that there is an answer for sin. Best of all, it is his joy to tell us that our sins are forgiven. His job was to comfort people who were ridden with guilt with those words, “your sins are forgiven.”

When you and I are frustrated by our stupidity to repeat the same sin over and over again, Christ is there to soothe our conscience with his perfect blood shed on the cross. When the devil throws our past sins at us, Christ is there to tell us that he has paid for them and the empty tomb on Easter morning is God’s promise to us that he has forgotten our sins.

And so when you or I sit in the cesspool of our own sins, and we look around us and all we see is the guilt of our own actions, and all we hear is the devil whispering his lies in our ear, Christ marches into the midst of our darkness and says to us, “My child, get up, I have healed you, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2, "A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home...Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them...When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sons are forgiven...I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.'"



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Unbelievably Rich

Have you ever felt "it?" Right here, in your heart? A loneliness, an emptiness, something dark and sorrowful, the feeling like you’re missing something. You come home, set your keys on the kitchen table and collapse into the nearest couch. Or you wake up look at your face in the mirror, and the loneliness stares back at you. When will it end, Lord? When will the sorrow be over? When will the pain stop and the joy begin? In our mind’s eye, we see the rest of the world and we accuse God of being unjust: Lord look at them, they have it all, they have happiness. Where’s mine? Where’s my slice of the pie? Why do you bless the wicked and forget about me?

And God’s answer doesn’t seem to satisfy us: My love is all you need, though the world may hate it, my love makes you rich.

Luke 6:20, "Looking at his disciples, Jesus said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'"

You and I may look as poor and worthless as dirt to the world, but we have an inheritance that makes a palace look like a shack in the woods: we have the kingdom of God. This is God’s eternal city, the place where the fullness of his glory resides, the glory which no human may see lest he die. This is where we belong. When Christ died on the cross he paid the price for all the times we sold ourselves to the lie of the world; for all the times we didn’t think God’s love was good enough. Through Christ, God has placed his name on your heart, you belong to him as a child. And as a child you have the right to claim the eternal city of God as your eternal city. There, surrounded by the angels and the faithful believers who have gone before us, we will finally be free from our sinful natures that we drag along in this life. We will finally be able to live perfectly in harmony with the will of God: no more doubting God’s love for us, no more sadness, no more anger, no more loneliness, no more hatred, no more sin.

Rich.

Beautifully, unbelievably rich.



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This is Why We Are Here

At a dusty wedding in Cana, Christ performed his first miracle. You no doubt remember it well. Mary, his mother, tells him that they have run out of wine and then casually tells the servants to do whatever Christ says. You know the rest: water was changed into wine. And not that cheap stuff you get in a box, this was first rate wine that tasted like it had aged for years. We find this first miracle in the gospel of John.

In the gospel of Mark, however, the first recorded miracle is a healing. In fact, when you look at all of Christ’s miracles, there are only a handful of times when he provided something like food or drink. For the most part, we see Christ healing people or casting out demons.

This is important because it shows us something about Christ. It shows us that he came with an interest and concern for the person. He did not come to gain notoriety for himself. Christ often told people he healed not to say anything about it. Christ wasn’t interested in fame. He had no hidden motives for healing people. He did not come with a bait and switch: come for healing, stay for grace. Instead, he sought to give each sinner what they truly needed: eternal life. And his work wasn’t done in a vacuum. He never operated alone. He was always seeking time with God the Father.

You and I want to pattern our own outreach after Christ’s.  That means we must jettison any hidden motives for spreading the good news and adopt Christ’s reasons. We’re here, at this place, at this time, to help sinners. We’re here to seek a stronger relationship with God. We must say along with Christ, “That is why I have come: to help sinners, to seek God.”

Mark 1:37-38: When [Jesus' disciples] found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."



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Can't Hide From God - Why Would You Want To?

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”

“I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

“Woe to me, I am ruined.”

“We are doomed to die! We have seen God.”

It is the same story repeated throughout the Scriptures. The closer sinners get to God, the more they realize they are unworthy and they are sinful.

Maybe you feel like that, too. You look to the front of Church and you see the cross, you see the altar. You know what it means. You have stepped onto holy ground here. The cross is Christ. The altar is the place of sacrifice. You know the cross was the altar on which Christ died. But was it really for me? Is it really mine?

You open your Bible. You sing a hymn or song and the words fall off of you. They don’t stick because you don’t want them to. “Those words can’t be for me because I don’t deserve them.”

We push Christ away! We are troubled by our sins. The guilt of the past overwhelms us. And our reaction sometimes is to get Christ out of our lives. Maybe if he would just go away I wouldn’t feel this way anymore. Maybe if I don’t see Jesus, he won’t see my sin and I won’t die and I won’t think so much about my sin.

"I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

“Get away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”

So we push him out. We push when we ignore Jesus. We push when we ignore our sin. We push when we just don’t want to deal with our sinfulness. 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

The funny thing is, Jesus understands this problem better than you or me. He understands that the problem isn’t because of him; it doesn’t have anything to do with how close God is. The problem is that we’re afraid. We’re afraid that if we admit to God how wretched we are he will condemn us forever. We’re afraid that if we admit our sin to other people, that if we confess the wickedness and filth of our life, that we won’t be able to bear the consequences. So Jesus says to you and me, “Do not be afraid.”

“I do know your sin. And I’m here to fix that. I’m here to help you. I have come to you. You couldn’t come to me, so I came to you.”

Jesus came for you. He knows your sin. He knows your struggle. And he also knows that he did everything to remove that. Jesus found you and me knee deep in sin, and he changed us. He changed us by giving us something better than fear, he gave us hope that God had come to rescue us.

You there, sinner, look at Jesus. You there, weighed down by the guilt of your past, look at how Jesus died for you on the cross. Look at how he paid the price for sin. This is for you. This is how fear is taken away.

Remember when Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they sinned? God had to practically chase them down and grab hold of them and tell them that all was not lost. He had a plan to save them from sin. He wanted them. Jesus grabs hold of you, even as you try to scramble away from him in fear, and says in your ear, “I love you. Do not be afraid.”

God wants you. Jesus wants you to be a part of his work. So Jesus did everything to change you. So come, let’s follow him.

Luke 5:8-11, "When Simon Peter saw [the miraculous catch of fish], he fell at Jesus' knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!' For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken...Then Jesus said to Simon, 'Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.' So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everytihng and follwed him."



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Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. ~ LUKE 12:32