Step Up, Leap Forward

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Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic (Hebrew) called Bethesda, (Bethsaida) which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews (Jewish Religious Leaders) said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” (John 5:2-10)

       As we read the story above from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John we see a story that at first we may skim over as Jesus healing a man. We appreciate the miracle as our Savior walked the earth in order to fulfill the law and bridge the gap between us and our Heavenly Father. But we miss the depth found in this short passage. Let us look deeper and note the commonality this invalid has with many believers today.

       This man had been ill/paralyzed for a long time and that can easily correspond to a believer being stifled in their walk as they sit around the “pool” waiting for opportunities to comfortably step up and apply the Word of God to their life. When things are easy and worldly behavior will suffice, they blissfully move while they neglect the weak foundation they are building for their life. They get to a point where they have to move out of worldly comfort and walk in a reliance on God, which will also cause them to walk in the ridicule of the world. Look above at verse 10 and see how the Jewish leaders didn’t marvel at the fact that a paralyzed man walked after 38 years; their first reaction was to attack him for carrying his bed! (Blinded by law)

       Also notice that Jesus asks the man in verse 6 if he wanted to be healed. This is the same offer that walking with our Lord gives us. We can overcome all of the obstacles in life when we accept the yoke of Jesus and the healing he offers us as we “lay next to the pool” paralyzed by the constraints of stepping out of worldly safety. Notice that in verse 7 the man actually never says yes to Jesus’ offer of healing. He starts with an excuse of why he couldn’t accomplish it without the Lord’s help. Such a simple story sounds like many believers today: paralyzed in worldly/self-imposed constraints, unwilling to let Jesus step into the difficulty, making excuses as to why their earthly power should have been enough, and ridiculed by people when his faith was exercised.

       Notice that: Jesus was the answer to his healing, he was unable to accomplish this miracle on his own, he was too lost in self-reliance to answer yes to the healing of Jesus, and was ridiculed because his healing set him apart from the world. How many of us are paralyzed and afraid to show our Jesus to the world? How many of us are lost in our self-reliance and self-doubt to allow God to move in and through us? How many of us are sitting by the “pool” looking to the world for help? Are you afraid the world will ridicule the light you shine when Jesus fills your heart?

     Step up and be healed! Step up and shine your light! Step up and be set apart (holy)! Step up and let the ridicule draw out the insecurities of those around you! Those insecurities don’t belong to you in JESUS! Step up so those insecurities are confronted by the love of your Savior! Bear His image, show His heart and shine His light. Do not be afraid. Do not be ashamed. Be the vessel of the Holy Spirit you are called to be. Step up and watch how God can cause you to leap forward!

Loved and Redeemed

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I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:21b-22)

         As we grow in love and obedience to God and develop the wisdom to understand His love for us poured out on the cross, it’s common to feel distant from or unworthy of God. I believe this is because all of us are used to the temporal, shallow love available to us through earthly vessels. Even when people love us with all they have, it still will never compare to the love of the Father. His love is eternal and unconditional. Although God hates sin, His love sweeps away our sin when we return to Him in repentance. We can never be too far gone for the love of the Father to wash us white as snow with the blood of Jesus.
         We can praise God that His mercies are new every day and that He will never give up on us as we are tempted to do when we feel discouraged. Believers must be careful not to see the love of God through the broken lenses of earthly affection. In the same way we cannot see the joy found in God through the broken lenses of happiness. The beautiful thing about God’s love, and also the thing that makes it hardest to comprehend is the fact that it is not based on emotion. There is no condition to His love. Similarly, there is no condition to the joy His love provides, unlike happiness which is conditional and fleeting.
         God created you to be loved for eternity. The deceiver looks to mask that and replace it with lesser versions like lust. The devil knows that one of his biggest problems is when we come into the full realization of what God’s love looks like, and what it looks like for that perfect love to drive out the fear used by the deceiver as fuel to draw us into darkness. Know that God’s love is forever yours. He sweeps away sin and offense for His name sake and not because of you. You can’t do anything to remove God’s love for you which existed before the beginning of time. Let the blood of the Lamb wash you clean and receive the love God came to earth to give you. Let His Spirit dwell in you and lead you to the purpose found in His perfect will and perfect love. He will never forget and of His creation. He knows the number of hairs on your head and knew your sin before your birth. Dwell in His love and let His love dwell in you, for He has redeemed His chosen, He has redeemed you.

Fallibilty of FEAR (Conclusion/10 of 10)

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Conclusion

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! 

Fallibility of FEAR (Anxiety/9 of 10)

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Fear as Anxiety

Anxiety is the fear that letting go of control will somehow cause things to fall into chaos. We must always remember that God in always in control. That’s a great thing considering that His will for us is always better than what we can imagine for ourselves. The fear of letting control leave our hands causes so much undo stress. Most of the time the anxiety starts with one subject and then spreads to many. Eventually we end up in a constant state of anxiousness which effects our daily function both internally and in regards to the people around us. People falsely assume that others can’t do what they can or do it as completely. They must choose to trust others and embrace the opportunity to help that person if a mistake is made. More importantly they must trust God and His provision, just as He trusts His chosen to carry out His work on earth.

 

Fallibility of FEAR (Depression/8 of 10)

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Fear as Depression/Sadness

Depression comes from a fear that things will never get any better. That fear fuels a hopelessness that reason cannot redirect. Allowing that fear to grow begins a downward spiral where the unrealistic fear builds upon itself. Eventually depression reaches a point that when things do improve, the emotion is so solidified that the good times are a lesser version of reality. This in-turn makes recovery even more difficult as the light looks dimmer as time goes forward. To curb depression we must attack that fear. The light of God can shine into the darkest depression. This comes from experience not a theory. It is unrealistic that things will always be hard. We cannot drift into hopelessness. This fear must be met with God and His reality!

Fallibility of FEAR (Pride/7 of 10)

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Fear as Pride

Pride is fear of including the thoughts of other people into your potentially fallible position. People work hard to create opinions and positions on every topic that they are exposed to. They work even harder to make sure that their opinion is relevant and valuable. When an opposing opinion might prove theirs inadequate pride creeps in. They first have to attack the person expressing the opinion to prove superiority and then undermine the value of the opposing opinion. The opposite of pride is humility. How much better and well-rounded would we be if we took a position of humility and allowed potentially valuable information to help grow our ideas? Be open to ideas that contradict yours. Sometimes an opportunity for growth comes from the most unlikely source.

Fallibility of FEAR (Greed/6 of 10)

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Fear as Greed

Greed comes from a fear that God’s provision will not be enough. People gather resources at the expense of others to ensure that their needs will be unconditionally met. They gather provision that will ruin over time. Just like in the wilderness when the Israelites were told to gather manna for the day. When they attempted to gather more it spoiled overnight. God provides more than we need. He does this in the hope that we will use that provision to provide for those around us. He could provide for them specifically but when His children do His work, the recipient can give glory to God. The world is full of people who prosper and refuse to give credit where it is due. Know that God gives abundantly for the purpose of His glory. He provides for His children. He promises this so there should be not room for fear reflected as greed in a believer.