5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:5-12)
In the scripture above I found a part of Christ’s character that made me smile and after reading it over a few times thought about what this passage says to me specifically. I see two stories unfolding at once. The room was full of stories being written that would unfold and cause a ripple that spread the gospel from that one moment throughout the world. I want to focus on two, although I hope you’ll see the beauty of how the Gospel exploded from each of the witnesses we have a tendency to overlook.
I see the scribes and I see the paralytic. We have scribes whose job was to interpret the law for the people. They were experts on the Old Testament law. They would be considered experts on laws. They were as full of head knowledge as anybody during that time. What they missed was when the fulfillment of those laws walking into a room. The God they followed walked into the room and looked into their eyes and they missed it. What good is all of the biblical knowledge in the world if you don’t recognize the author? I am drawn to the character of God that starts small, draws our attention, and then opens our eyes to His love and faithfulness. Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic and allows the scribes to take notice in their questioning of Him. Then, knowing their hearts, He shows His authority to all. He draws in the people hardened to faith and then brought the whole room into a moment of glorification to God. He has their attention and then heals him so that when he stands, ‘all and amazed and they all glorify God.’ I see the heart of God and the patience He takes in helping us in our hardened state. What love and faithfulness we are called to serve.
I see the paralytic being lowered through the roof in such faith. Then the Lord takes notice of him and forgives him of his sins. There is now a moment where he lays there forgiven and still paralyzed. There was a time that his faith had to continue in order to be healed. God’s wisdom decided to use his trouble (paralysis) to save those around him. He then decided to use that moment he remained faithful to save the teachers of the law. I’m sure that moment felt like an eternity to the paralytic, but I’m positive it meant eternal life for those to who he was blessed enough to bear witness.
God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8)
But the character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday; when “the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgement will be revealed” (Romans 2:5) arrives. Retribution will be exact, and no problems of cosmic unfairness will remain to haunt us. –J.I. Packer
The world suffers under the idea of fairness/equality. I personally would rather prosper under the idea of faith. We look to God for His provision and must have faith that He has given what He desires that we possess. Our mission is to glorify God in whatever provision we are given so that His light can shine forth from us. We all know that modern social status is based on wealth and position. God is also aware of that fallenness and uses our positioning in society to effect the people around us. God made you and knows where your heart will best serve His eternal kingdom. Don’t get down that you don’t compare well to somebody else. Shine where you are. Glorify God and seek His immortal kingdom and the provision that matters for all eternity is promised to you through Jesus Christ. Don’t look at a sinful person and wonder how it is that your righteousness doesn’t shine brighter. The darkness of the fallen blend into the darkness of the world. Don’t seek the prosperity of the fallen earth. Seek God, His provision, and His kingdom. God will judge this world and His perfect and righteous judgement will make all thing fair, and all things clear. Where the lost seek fairness for a lifetime, our God guarantees fairness for all eternity. Keep your eyes on the Heavenly Father and know He has you where He wants you, prosper in faith and avoid the suffering in fairness.
We have a God that never changes. The same God that created the universe gave you the breath of life. The same God that raised Christ from the dead allowed you to open your eyes this morning. He has no reason to change in His perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness. He knows the beginning from the end and sees the bigger picture as His will is played out on earth.
I’ve been guilty of thinking that my actions in some way change the way God sees me, or the way He can use me. I forget that God knew every mistake I would ever make, every sinful thought or action, before the beginning of time. He knew when He called me into adoption as His child, all that I had done and would ever do. His heart for me has no reason to change. His love for me is incomprehensible and would be overwhelming if I could receive it fully in this human heart. We have to look at our greatest examples of love here on earth and just imagine how infinitely better His must be.
I wanted to imagine an analogy to make this as real as possible to the people who I get to profess His love to. Imagine with me that you are at the park with your kids, or children you care deeply for. You see them working through their pre-school problems with the other kids. (Who gets the yellow shovel? Who touched me? Who moved my rock?) You smile at how funny they are dwelling on the trivial things in life. You laugh at how much bigger the world is than their tiny playground. You wonder what amazing things they will accomplish as they grow and mature. That is how the Father sees us as His children. We struggle, lost in emotions that interfere with our reason and truth. We think that moments spell the end for us and panic. We forget that He is in control and will guide us as we do our children. I imagine God’s smile as He waits for me to come to Him when I think my newest struggle is more than just my newest yellow shovel struggle.
He has no need to feed our panic or deliver us from struggles that don’t hinder His bigger view of life. His love had no reason to waiver over our hyper focus on relatively small things. He’s driving the car and we keep panicking about the dumps in the road. Fall into the freedom of letting God drive the car. Let Him maneuver the way as He guides you through His journey for you. Know always that He sees your struggles, but He sees them through the eyes of His plan and through the eyes of eternity. Your mountain is a grain of sand to the Creator. Let Him blow your mountains away, after you grow in the climbing of those mountains. Share the yellow shovel, the green one works too. That touch didn’t hurt you, but your forgiveness will touch them in greater ways. Let them have your rock, God has a better one waiting for you when you look to Him. We are sojourners on this earth, like a giant playground. Grow in its lesson and return to the Father that watches you the entire time, with a smile that never waivers.
Adam Gave It Away
I was considering the fallenness of the earth and the fact that the earth is under the control of satan. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The world falls deeper into the chaos of sin every day. People think of sin as the big things (murder, assault, rape, etc.), but in fact the world is covered in sin when you compare us to the holiness of God. The world God gave us was covered in His glory, and it was very good! And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) The world has fallen into darkness (away from God’s light) and its sinfulness is so prevalent that people don’t recognize it anymore. Sin has become normal and everyone is desensitized to it.
I began working through Genesis today for a group study and had a thought in regards to all of this. God gave the world to Adam and Eve. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion… (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve were given dominion over all of the earth and its creatures! But above we see that satan is the god of this world. We have to realize that Adam gave satan this world in original sin. In God’s light Adam ruled over all of God’s creation, but in sinful darkness, satan is lord. I say this to illustrate how sin gives the deceiver power. Sin gives him a foot hold in the lives of all people. When hearts are turned back to God and made pure in the blood of Jesus, satan is defeated. God’s light drives out darkness. The same goes for your mind, heart, and life. Give God control of everything and walk in His light. Satan doesn’t have dominion over you if you refuse to give it to him, in sin. Don’t make the same mistakes we see in Adam. Let him be our example and let Jesus be our way out. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can you escape the darkness. The Spirit of God is yours in Jesus. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)
When emotions run high and fear creeps in: stop in the silence/stillness of God. (1)Identify what is real, (2) what this can teach us, (3) how God can act through this, and (4) how we can show God to others in that moment.
- (1) Ask God to speak truth to your heart. Know that you are prone to sin and the temptation to react without guidance. Be honest and show humility when you examine your own heart. Seek to discover what is real so proper action can be taken.
- (2) After we know the real emotion, find its purpose in your situation. What can it teach us about ourselves? What can it teach us about others? What can it teach us about our role in this situation (are we to learn or be an example to teach others)? Every situation is a chance to learn!
- (3) Can you identify how God is acting through the situation? Who is He spurring toward growth or realization? What defenses are being broken down or weakened? Is He drawing people closer to Him? Is He providing provision that might be missed in the presence of high emotion?
- (4) How can you be His example? Maybe God has brought you a difficult situation so that you might show others the power of the Spirit in your life, what reliance of God really looks like. Being an example of God creates more change than being a person of words. God let Lazarus die, which brought Jesus to tears. He did this so that He might be glorified when Jesus brought Him back to life!
Fear as Anger
Anger is a ‘go-to’ emotion. It’s easy. It takes the inward fear and reflects it outward, it makes other people victims of your fear. The majority of the time we are angry, it is fueled by another emotion that we are choosing to not deal with. We avoid dealing by covering it with anger and focusing out fear outward. There is justifiable anger described in the bible and shown in the actions of Jesus (flipping the tables of the money changers in the temple). We must be careful to accept the real emotion and deal with it instead of letting it turn into anger, and if we feel angry: stop, and be honest enough with ourselves to find the source. Our God is not an angry God! He is a God of love. Be a representation of God: exemplifying a love that cannot be explained. That love drives out anger, whose source comes from fear. (1 John 4:18)
Fear drives many of the emotions that cause us to try and work ahead of God. Fear drives many of the other emotions that we might not realize come from fear: anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred, sadness, un-forgiveness, greed, pride, depression, anxiety… I’ve heard fear describe with the acronym: False Emotions Assumed Real. Many times we add more weight to a situation which in turn creates in us more emotion. Eventually the amount of emotion we attach to a situation becomes uncontrollable and the false assumptions creep in. These false assumptions act as fuel for the emotions that take us away from reality and toward the coping emotions where there is not truth and healing is impossible because the source is so far removed from the new reality.
What a shame it is to see people turn away from a God they don’t even know. They deny the existence of the God they’ve never sought. With eyes closed and ears plugged they run as quickly as possible into the shallow existence available on earth. There is an inherent self-reliance and pride that sin has placed on the heart of every person. God is found in submission to His authority. In order to submit to that authority you have to be faithful of His steadfast love. His infinite love guarantees that He insures a life for us that far surpasses our finite expectations. In order to make God clearer I ask you to do the following with me:
Imagine for a moment that you are a child. A child that hangs on every word of your Father. You are the apple of His eye and you can’t stand to be away from Him. Now imagine that your father is a king. His wealth is limitless, especially in your child-like view of things. As His child you want for nothing, all that you ask is given to you in abundance. You have no worries. On top of that imagine your Father is perfect in is love for you. His comfort is always loving and warm, His correction of your wrongs is always in love, He is always available to you and seeks time with you, and nothing you can do can change His love for you. Sit thoughtfully and read the beginning of this paragraph again, slowly, and really fall into the presence of your perfect Father. In this wonderful environment, would you not trust your Father to always have what you needed? Wouldn’t it be easy to trust that your best interest was always His priority? Wouldn’t you look to Him for wise counsel so that you might be closer to Him and become more like Him?
Now know that what you have sat and imagined is real! You are a child, the child of the king of all kings. God makes clear that all who believe in Jesus are adopted as His children and will receive the inheritance of His eternal kingdom. That perfect love you imagined is limited by your sinful nature, His love is actually more than any human can imagine let alone provide. You have just imagined a reality that exists for all who want it. You have a Father that knows your needs over your wants, corrects you with perfect love, protects you, and will never take away His love. Jesus died so that God doesn’t see our ugliness, only our beauty as His image bearers.
The best way to find the true view of God is as His child, trusting in His steadfast love. Let go of any pride that exists in your heart, and submit to the love that will never fade. God wants more for you than this earth can offer. Be reconciled to Him in Jesus and inherit His Perfect Love and His Eternal Kingdom.
Think about the many culture that exist around the world. The Hawaiian culture is laid back and trusts in everything being ok, where the Chinese culture is at the other end of the spectrum with its structure and control. Every other culture within the spectrum has customs and ways of doing things that make the most sense to those people. Each is also developed by man who is fallen. Thus each culture will inevitably leads its people away from God’s perfect way. A laid back culture will fail to act and miss the path of God, where the controlling culture will fail to rely on God’s guidance and miss God’s path as well. As the world falls deeper into the darkness and toward Armageddon, we see God being ignored. This is very true in America. The country was founded by Christians and grew based on His principles. Now we see a movement toward removing God and His founding structure from this country. Everyone is becoming fearful of terrorists, financial collapse, or excess crime rates. They fail to see that those fears grow as we drift from the design of God and subsequently the fathers of this country. I only use the U.S. as an example because its origins were found in God, thus they’ve strayed from its good start. Other cultures were founded in darkness and show more variance due to their human conception. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to develop within us a heavenly culture where reliance on, faith in, and love for God are its main focus.