Saturday, April 28, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 6 - Living in Victory Motto

Anyone have plans for the summer? I know that a lot of us stay here and brave the sweltering heat that comes in the summer months. But I know that a lot of us also try to get away for a week or two and visit family and friends. This summer seems like it will be my most traveled summer. I have a conference that I’m leaving for today. I have a four day trip that I’m taking with my dad. Then I will be gone for two weeks for a family reunion. And to top it all off I have a week missions trip with our youth. Plans and travel on top of plans and travel. And most of the time, when we plan everything out, plans seem to work themselves out. But not always.
There are times when I have had to change, shift, or outright cancel trips because someone got hurt, or an emergency came up. And I’m sure we’ve all had plans change because of something out of our control. How have you handled it? There have been several vacations I’ve taken where I wanted to do something, but because of time or energy, we just couldn’t do it. And I was not to happy. I mean, it’s my vacation, why should I change my plans? But things happen and plans change.

Lately, I have been going through the book of Romans. And while I’ve been reading through Paul’s letter to this church in Rome, I have been learning what it means to live in victory everyday. In fact in my church, I just finished a five week series on this very idea. Today, I want to briefly take you through that victory series, and see how Paul had to put this into practice. So today, we’re going to focus on the book of Romans, chapter 15, verses 22-33. But before we get into those verses, let me share with you what Paul has been building beforehand.

The book of Romans is a theological treatment of who we are in our rebellion against God. How we are sinners and cannot for the life of us, make right our sin and rebellion. Paul then points us to Jesus and God’s plan of salvation as a free gift given to those who accept it. Paul compares Adam, the sin bringer, to Jesus, the sin sacrifice. Then after chapter 10, Paul begins to shift his focus from the the sinner pre-Christ and their need for him, to the justified life after accepting Jesus’ work on the cross. Then in chapter 12, Paul gives us insight into how to live in this justified life. For the last several weeks I have been calling this the victorious life. The life post cross, in which Jesus won the victory over sin and death, and now we who accept this action on our behalf, can live in the victory as well. And this victory is not just in heaven, but victory today, and everyday thereafter.

In chapter 12 verse 1 through chapter 15 verse 22, Paul gives us three ways that we can live out this victorious life: through submission, not fighting over in inconsequential opinions, and sharing what God has done for us. 

All of what Paul has done up to verse 22 of chapter 15, has been to build into his readers an understanding of the foundations to the Christian faith. But the point of Romans is not just to rely the theological and it’s practical application. Paul desires, that the Church in Rome would be his partners in sharing the Gospel to the unknown regions, in this case Spain. And that’s where we come today. To what Paul’s future plans for his ministry are. So if you have your Bibles we’re going to start reading in Romans chapter 15, verse 23.

23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia (a-ki-uh) were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

Now really, there’s not much here. I mean Paul is concluding his letter with some talk about going to Spain. And if it were a modern audience we might respond to where Paul writes, “and to have you assist me on my journey…” with, “here we go, here’s the real reason he’s writing to us, he just wants money.” And maybe that’s the case, I mean, Paul does talk about the material blessings that the Gentile believers of Macedonia and Achaia (a-ki-uh) are giving to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. 

But I don’t think this is the case, instead, if anything Paul is seeking that they would be in prayer for him. In fact, that’s what Paul asks them to do in verse 30, “30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

The Church in Rome joining Paul in prayer for the expansion of the Gospel message is Paul’s desire. He never asks them for a cent, but rather desires that they would be in prayer for him. 

But none of this is what we’re going to focus on today, because within all of this, is an extremely important teaching for Paul and us, but it can be easily over looked.

Today, I want us to focus on two verse from this passage. Verse 29 and verse 32. Why these to verses? Because these two verses finish off Paul’s teaching on the victorious/justified life. Like I said earlier, Paul started with our sin, moved into God’s sacrifice through Jesus, and into our living the victorious life that Jesus won. Paul gives us three applications of submission, not quarreling, and sharing God’s word, to help us live out the victorious life. And now he ends it with two exclamation marks, that sum up how the victorious life is to be lived out.

“29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ…. 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”

Paul spent 15 chapters showing the Roman Church why they need Jesus, and how Jesus’ victory on the cross leads them to live victorious lives today. And then at the end of this entire 15th chapter teaching, Paul gives us two practical life mottos to live by.

“29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ… 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”

Why do these matter? Because Paul understood that the victorious life was lived in both the ease of peace, and the harshness of suffering. 
Let’s put all of this into context. Paul is writing to the Roman Church on the eve of him going to Jerusalem. Where, he didn’t know, but he was going to be arrested, thrown in jail, placed on a boat that would eventually ship wreck. This is the route that Paul took to get to Rome. And instead of going to Spain, Paul would be killed.
Paul didn’t know that all this was going to happen, but he understood that no matter how he was going to arrive in Rome, it was going to be by the will of God, and the blessing of Christ. 

This is how the victorious life God has saved us to experience is summed up. No matter what the circumstance, whether good or bad, we need to have the mind set that the will of God be carried out, and blessings of Christ will be poured out in full measure to us through it.

So is suffering blessing? Apparently, because James says this in the opening to his letter, “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:2-3).”

Jesus says it like this is John’s Gospel, “33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42).’”
To which the writer of Hebrews says, “2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”

What can we walk away from all of this? Paul leaves us with two mottos to say as we live in victory, “However I come, it’s in the blessing of Christ,” and “Let God’s will be done in my life.”

When we have these two ideas as the mottos of our victorious life in Christ, what we’re doing is putting our eyes on Jesus, the Victor. The One who beat our sin and death. This is the victorious life, that we are found in him. Hence the reason why Jesus made the comparison to him being the vine and us being the branches in John chapter 15. 
The state of the world, the state of our checking account, the state of our health, the state of our vacations, none of it matters. Because even if we plan it all out the way we want it, it can and probably will change. What matters is this, are we living in such a way that the blessings of Christ show themselves in our lives because we are living to be in the will of God, or are we not?

If you and I want to live victoriously through the cross, we can only do this by living in daily submission to Jesus becoming more in our lives. Nothing else matters. No matter the situation, whether good or bad. Because in the end it’s Christ or nothing. I want to read to you an hymn from the turn of the 20th century by A.B. Simpson.

Verse 1
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Verse 2
It once was painful trying, Now it's perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
It once was ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
It once was constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.

Verse 3
It once was busy planning, Now it's trustful prayer;
It once was anxious caring, Now He has the care.
It once was what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
It once was constant asking, Now it's ceaseless praise.

Verse 4
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He lives in me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone. 

All in all forever, Jesus will I sing
Everything in Jesus, and Jesus everything

Let us be people that all we want is more of Jesus, and less of ourselves. Because only when that happens, can we see ourselves living daily in victory. 

I always give a challenge at the end, so here’s a challenge for your week. Write down these words, “29…I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ…by God’s will…”
        This week, when you face the peace, or the struggles, speak the words of Scripture and put your focus on Christ and his work in your life.
And let God bring to you his victory, as you rely and focus on him alone. Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Living In Victory, Week 5 - Humbled to Love

We’re always improving things around here. Trying to make things run more efficiently, and maximizing the work we can do. About a year ago, one of our people donated a small sound board to replace the one in the fellowship hall, that has been slowly going down hill. It’s not big, but it’s good for what we need it to be. But there’s a problem. The sound cabinet we have over there isn’t designed for that particular type of sound board and so we don’t have the adequate room for it. 
So, instead of breaking a part the cabinet in there, I decided to just build a new one. So on Tuesday, that’s what I worked on, and my son Israel helped me. And when I say helped me, you know what I mean. He got me tools, held some pieces of wood, and picked up the scraps. While we were out working on this project, he got bored and began to work on his own. He put some blocks and wood together to make a “door stop.” He took some of the wood I was working with and made himself a “tool bench.” And one of his “jobs,” I don’t know what he was doing, but it almost caused me to fall on my face, by creating a tripping hazard.
At the end of the day when we called it quits, he proudly told his mother that we built a cabinet. If we’re talking percentage wise, he probably accounted for 2% of the work. But to him, it was an immense contribution.
Now even though he didn’t do a lot, I realized that my willingness to allow him to participate in the project, gave him a sense of accomplishment. And it reminded me of what we’re going to be talking about today, as we finish up our sermon series on Living in Victory.

In the first week of this series we talked about how Jesus won victory for us through suffering. Now suffering is not usually looked to as a way to victory. But every meaningful victory is won through suffering. Participation trophies are nice to fill up a mantle, but only those trophies that were won through adversity mean anything. Jesus won the victory for us, on a level of adversity that none of us will probably ever experience.
In the second week, we talked about how Jesus reversed the mockery of the cross. The cross was seen as one of the biggest signs of contempt for a person. And for hundreds of years prior to Jesus, the cross was a sign of disgrace. But because of Jesus, it has become a symbol of God’s grace. Jesus reversed the mockery of the cross to show us his victory, and now the cross reminds us of what only God could accomplish.
The following week after that, we talked about how victory is given to us through Jesus, but we must always remember that Jesus won it. We talked about how we need to rely on Jesus continually because we are not powerful enough to have victory over sin. It is Jesus who has defeated sin, and if we want that to become the reality in our daily lives, we must learn the mantra of “I am a sinner, and I need Jesus to live through me.” When we live our lives with this at the forefront of our minds, then daily victory begins to happen more and more.
Finally, last week we talked about how we were going to put a little concrete to this entire series. And to do that we were going to divide it into two parts: the inside and the outside. Last week we talked about how to begin to live in victory in the inside of our heart and mind, we needed to take the first step of humility. We needed to move past our own wants and desires, and give them up. We needed to move past our own thoughts, and feelings and give them up. We needed to come to a place where we are no longer living for ourselves, but for the God who has saved us through the victory on the cross. Only when our first step in victory is humility, can we begin to live victorious in our daily lives.

Today we’re going to finish up this series and talk about the outside. What are some things we need to do on the outside, to live in victory every day? As we have been doing for the last few weeks, we are going to return to the book of Romans, and we’re going to pick up where we left off with last week. We’re going to go to the book of Romans, chapter 12, starting in verse 9. 
Now, as you open to Romans 12 verse 9, we’re going to be moving through several chapters today. The reason for this, is because Paul gives us an umbrella idea of what we need to do on the outside, and then unpacks that idea through chapter 15. Now we’re not going to read every verse, but instead, we’re going to hit the major points.
So let’s dive into Romans chapter 12, starting in verse 9.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

In these opening verses Paul is connecting the inner humility that he talked about in verse 3-8 last week, to the outward action of love. This shouldn’t be a surprise if we have read anything of the Gospels, or have sat in a church for more than a Sunday. Like we talked about last week, love is the core of God’s commands to us. I shared with you Mark 12, 29-31 last week. “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This is why we talk about how the vision that God has given us here at the Alliance Church starts with love. We experience God’s love and we are motivated by that love to the rest of the vision. Love is both what we receive from God, through his victory on the cross, and what we are to then share with the people around us.

But Paul doesn't’ just say to love, but also what this can look like when we do it. Starting in verse 11, he says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
“14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
“21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Paul is showing that, the humility that we must step forward in on the inside, then shows itself on the outside by caring for people. 

And it’s after this that Paul starts to build on what it looks like to love with the starting point of humility.
In chapter 13 verse 1 Paul says, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Here is Paul’s first point, to love from a place of humility, means to act in submission. Submission is one of those hard words, especially in our society. We tend to have the mind of, “I am free and shouldn’t have to submit to anyone.” The misuse of the word, brings with it the idea that I should never be under someone’s boot. Submission goes against the very nature of humanity. But it’s in submission that love shines.
Paul says this of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, “5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)”
Submission is extremely hard, it goes against the sin that battles inside of us, hence the reason Paul calls us to submit. If we are going to live in victory we must stop living in the ways that lead to defeat. And not submitting leads to defeat.

Let’s move on to Paul’s second point. In chapter 14 verse 1 Paul writes, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
We’ve talked about this before. There are so many things in Christianity that are based on our own personal relationship with God. What type of food I eat, what type of drinks I drink, what type of music I listen to, what type of clothing I wear, and the list goes on and on. And that is just the outside things. There are theological things as well, that fall into this category. Are you pre, mid, or post trib. Do you know what that means? Are you Arminiust  or Calvinist? Each one leads to different personal understandings of God, but none are as important as Jesus died for sinners, of which I am one (1 Tim. 1:15).
Paul goes on to say in chapter 14 verse 13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
In other words, to love from a place of humility, means to not think we have all the answers. Instead we need to allow God to build his relationship with people, giving counsel and advice, only when it is sought after.

Finally, we can find Paul’s final point in chapter 15 verse 17, “17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (ill-ear-i-come), I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”

This final one has been our overarching focus this past winter season. During this season we have been talking about the final aspect in the vision that God has given us. The Life aspect. To point people back to the life God has for them.
Paul is saying that to love from a place of humility, is to share what God has done in us with others.
This can be the hardest of the three points Paul has made. In submitting, yes it’s hard, but we pay takes, we listen to our bosses, we take out the trash. All things that can be hard, but we do them.
In not thinking we have all the answers, it can be hard, but we can shut our mouths when we think someone’s not doing the right things. 
But to share what God has done for us can be the most difficult, because we don’t want to come off as pushy, or preachy, or crazy. But to live in victory means to share that victory with other people. Have you ever heard of a people winning a war and never talking about it again?
And what happens when people stop talking about the victories in their life? The defeats then seem to hover over our heads and we lose sight of what has been won.
Here is a verse from 1 Corinthians 15:57 that all of us should memorize. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It should be what we think of when we wake, what we talk about in our day, and what we thank God for when we lay down to sleep.
God’s victory should always be on our mind and our lips.

We have spent the last five weeks talking about how to live in victory everyday. It’s starts with Jesus winning the victory. It moves to an inner humility of our mind and heart. And shows itself by loving the people around us.

My challenge for you this week is this, take the areas we talked about today: submission, non-judgement, or sharing. Bring them before God and say, which one have I not been loving in? Which one am I not living in victory?
Am I trying to get my own way in something? Then I need to submit.
Am I trying to make people conform to my way of thinking about God? Then I need to seek forgiveness and allow God to move.
Have I not shared my victory in Jesus with someone else? Then I need God to bring someone along to whom I can share with

If we want to live in victory everyday, it must start with Jesus who won it, it must humble us, and it must cause us to love. Let us be a humble people who love, as Jesus showed us to love on the cross. Let’s pray.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 4 - Humility On the Inside

So I don’t know about you, but I have had a hard week. Not physically hard, but relationally and spiritually hard. And this usually happens as we talk about spiritually things. This week I have had victories in the Jesus, and I have put on the chains of sin as well. I have sought Jesus to be my victory in times, and I have given up and allowed sin to have control of my life.
And I want to share that with you, because we can easily think that once we become a Christian, or if we can do all the right steps, then we will not have trouble, or we will not succumb to sin. But that is a lie. The idea that we will never struggle with sin again is one of those fantasies that we talked about last week.
The reality is this, Jesus says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
I don’t want us to leave here thinking, “If I just follow the Pastor’s challenges, or the steps he gives us, then I will never face trouble, I will never wrestle with sin, I will never succumb to my sinful desires again.” Because that is a fantasy. You know how I know that, because Jesus says it in his word “…you will have trouble.” Paul tells us that he struggled with sin, even though he was one of the great apostles of the Church.
But what I can say, without any doubt in my mind is this: if we continue forward in our trusting of Jesus. If we put ourselves into positions where he can transform us, then sin’s power and control in our lives will lessen over time. And we will begin to see ourselves as God sees us through Jesus: perfect and blameless. 

And it all starts in the victory that Jesus won on the cross. The victory that he gives to us freely if we put our trust in him as our Savior. And that’s what we’ve been talking about these past three weeks. How do we live in the victory that Jesus won on the cross?
In the first two weeks we talked about what that victory was. First we talked about how it was won through suffering. We tend to want to just have a victory with the least amount of resistance, but Jesus shows us that his way to victory is through struggle and strife. That’s why we fall to our sin, because the victory comes through suffering, and is all the sweeter because of it. Then on Easter, we talked about how Jesus’ victory was a reversal of mockery. How the world looks at Jesus and says, we got ‘em. Jesus then raises from the dead and puts the mockery back on the world saying, gotcha. So when we fail, and the world looks at us saying, I thought you were a Christian? We can respond with what we talked about last week. I am a sinner, and that’s why I need Jesus. This is the greatest thing we can hold onto in living victoriously. When we recognize that it is Jesus who not only won our victory, but we must rely on him moment by moment for that victory to become the reality in our lives. That it is not us that defeats sin, but Jesus living in us who defeated sin on the cross, and who can defeat it every time it comes crawling back.

And now that we have spent three weeks focusing on how Jesus is the victor, and how we must rely on him, we’re going to spend the next two weeks putting all of this to the concrete. Because Jesus has given us a lot of ways for us to have victory in this life.
Now, like I said in the past, we must understand that we have to rely on Jesus for the victory, because if we rely on what we’re going to discuss in the next two weeks as our avenue to victory, what will end up happening is we will become legalistic and hypocritical. It will also make us fall into the trap of thinking that we win the victory a part from from Jesus. But that’s just one more fantasy to add to the many we tend to live by.
And as we get into these two weeks we’re going to separate them into the inside and the outside. This week we will be dealing with the inside. Now you might ask the question, why? Why would we deal with the inside, when all our actions are what get us into trouble? Let me share with you two passages of Scripture. Both from the Gospel of Matthew.

The first is Matthew chapter 15 verses 11,17-20, “11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them…17 Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

The second comes from Matthew chapter 23 verses 27-28, “27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Jesus was very blunt on where sin takes root. The sin we see that impacts our relationships, comes from the sin that is boiling inside of us. It’s the sin that has been rooted in our heart that we need to take care of, because if we just try to clean up our actions, all we’re doing is putting a bandaid over that problem. And allowing the sore underneath to fester and spread.

So we must start with the inside. But how? This is where we return to the book of Romans where we started in a few weeks ago, but this time we are going to fast forward to chapter 12, and start in verse 1. Now Romans 12:1 is a common passage that is recited in the Church. But it’s the verses after it that I want us to focus on today. But let’s start in verse 1 of chapter 12 of the book of Romans.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I want to break down these two passages really fast. First Paul says, “in view of God’s mercy.” We can think about this is terms of the victory we’ve been talking about. We can say it like this, “In view of God’s victory that we have been brought into when we trusted in him as our Savior.” Paul says it more succinctly, but now we can move forward. Because Jesus won the victory, Paul’s telling us that this should move us forward in offering our whole bodies back to him, which as Paul notes at the end of the first verse is our “true and proper worship.”
Another way of looking at this would be like this: when we rely on Jesus with both our inner and outer struggle against sin, we are worshiping him. When we say, “I am a sinner, Jesus I need you to live through me.” What we’re doing is worshiping him. How? By going to God and saying I am yours.
But what I find interesting about these two verses is that Paul says, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices,”  and that seems like he would be talking about our outside, even saying in the first phrase of verse 2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…” But how does Paul not want us to conform to the patterns of the world? Is it through our outward actions? No, it’s through the renewing of our mind. Paul is saying, that for us to not conform, we must have an inner change. The outward change, comes from the inner transformation.

Now, Paul will get to the outer actions next week, but today Paul follows up these words in verses 1 and 2 with something that seems out of place. Let’s read starting in verse 3.

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

This is a strange follow up to Paul’s statement of being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Don’t you think? Shouldn’t Paul have said, you need to pray more. Or shouldn’t he have said to read your Bible more? Shouldn’t Paul have said think before you speak? Or a whole host of things we tend to say when we talk about God transforming our minds?
But he doesn’t. Instead of saying any of that, Paul tells us to be humble about who we are, and to use the gifts God has given us for the betterment of the Church.

Now how in the world does that transform our mind? How does that overcome sin in our lives? 

We talk a lot about the book of Mark, chapter 12, verse 29-31 in this church. The reason is, is because it is one of the passages that our Love, Lift, Locate, Life vision is based on. I want to read those three verses to you right now, and I want to see if you can see why Paul follows up his transforming mind statement with humility.

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Just like Paul was more succinct than I was, Jesus was more succinct than Paul was. Jesus is saying, to love God and to love people as ourselves are the two greatest commandments that are interwoven with each other. You can’t love God and not love people. You can’t love people without loving God.
Paul is saying that the transformation of our minds that is only possible because of Jesus’ victory, is done through the humbleness of ourselves and the service we provide to others. 
The two are interlocked with each other. Jesus says of our love towards people is based on the love we have for ourselves. We must make our desire of wanting the best for ourselves equal to wanting the best for other people. How do we do this? By being humble, and through this humility, being truthful about our limitations, our sin, our strengths. It’s here that transformation begins. Praying, Bible reading, meditation, study, these are all good things. But if we are not humbling ourselves to be wiling to be transformed and used by God, then all of that is worthless. Because all of it, is just going through the motions of trying to make transformation happen.

Paul moves from transformation of the mind, to the humbleness of the spirit, so that we would realize that we must start here. We must humble ourselves to the work of Jesus in us, so that our inner life can be victorious over sin.

Because what is sin at it’s core? A desire to be greater than we are. The serpent told Eve, God doesn’t want you to be like him. He’s holding back godhood from you. So she decided she wanted to be like God, greater than she was, so she ate. The sin in our lives wants us to think of ourselves greater than we are, so Paul’s remedy for that is to be humble. To be truthful with our sin, with our shortcomings, and with our strengths.

And how do we become humble in our lives? As a challenge, I want to give you four activities you can do this week to move yourself into a place of humility. Ready?

First, let’s be truthful about who we want to be. Make a list of all the things you want. Be as honest as you can. If you want to be an astronaut, write it down. If you want to make a million dollars, write it down. Do not hold back. Be as honest as possible.
Second, write down three, what you consider, major sins in your life that hurt you and the people around you the most. Be as honest as possible.
Third, write down the strengths that you see, or other people see in your life, that God has given you.
Finally, take your strengths and your wants and ask yourself, “Are the strengths God has given me able to achieve the things I want?” If you want to be an astronaut, but don’t like confined spaces, well it might not be a good fit. So throw that out. Throw out any desire you have that doesn’t not match the strength God has given you. And when you are left with those things that you can accomplish through the gifts God has given you; then take the sins, bring them before God, sin in one had, and your gifts and achievements in the other, and ask God to humble you in your gifts so that your sins can’t corrupt the work God plans through you life.

This is how humility starts, by bringing everything we have before God and saying these are my sins, these are my strengths, I give them to you God who won the victory. As Paul would say, “this is your true and proper worship.

Let us become a humble people, seeing where we fail and where God has given us strength, so that we can be transformed for greater victories and worship of God. Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 3 - We're All Mad Down Here

Have you ever read, or have seen the movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderland? A very interesting, if not very bizarre story. A little girl follows a white rabbit down the rabbit hole, into a wonderland of insanity. One of my favorite interactions is between Alice and Cheshire Cat. Alice is trying to find her way, and the Cat tells her you can go this way, be those people are mad, or you can go that way, in which case, those people are mad too. 
Take a listen to their conversation. 
“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
“'Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
"How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
"You must be,’ said the Cat, 'or you wouldn’t have come here.’”

I love this interaction, because it summons up the plight of humanity. We’re all mad down here. Or to put in a modern way, we’re all insane. Many of you have heard the quote attributed to Albert Einstein about insanity. Where the quote goes as, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Today, I want to share with you the legal definition of insanity. To be legally insane is to have, “mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”

That is the legal definition of insanity, and I have to tell you that if you have ever had children, you know what it means to be both around insanity, and to enter into yourself. Uncontrollable impulsive behavior? That’s just life with kids. One kid says, “He hit me!” The other kid responds, “No I didn’t” And then you as the parent say, “I saw you hit your sister. Why did you do that?” “I don’t know,” he shrugs. 
And the insanity goes on, and on, and on. We’re all mad down here is right.

We see the madness, the insanity of our world all around us. Why do we spend money when we don’t have? Why do we hurt the people that love us the most? Why are wars waged with people thousands of miles away from each other? 
It’s because we’re all mad, we’re all insane. 
And why is this? Why are we insane? Why do we do insane things, like hurt ourselves and the people around us? Especially when that hurt doesn’t bring us any long term peace and joy?
Listen to what Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:15, 18b-19).”
Doesn’t that sound a little insane? And this is us, right? Why do I keep hurting the people I love? Why do I keep falling back into the same bad habits? It’s because you and I are mad, just like everyone else in this world. But the madness doesn’t have to continue. It does not have to over take us, because as we’ll discover today, the victory that Jesus achieved through the cross and resurrection can break the madness of our lives.
So if you have your Bibles we’re going to be going through three chapters of the Book of Romans. Starting where we left off from last week in Roman’s sixth chapter, and the fifth verse. Last week we ended Easter Sunday with this passage from Romans chapter 6 verse 5, where Paul says, “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
This is extremely important to understand, because we’ll becoming back to this idea again and again this morning. Because the escape from the madness is rooted in these words: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Now, we’re not going to read every part of these three chapters, because I want us to get an overall understanding of what is being said here.

Let’s start with the victory that Paul is talking about in verse 8.

“8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
“11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Jesus’ victory has two results that come out of it. First, death no longer has power. In verse 9 Pauls says, “death no longer has mastery over him.” The power of death has been broken. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church he grabs a Scripture verse from the book of Hosea and says this, “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin…”
Our sin holds death over us. Death is the unnatural ending to our lives. This is why is scares so many people. This is why throughout human history people tried to appease death. This is why we have sought to live longer, by any means we could. 
Death is a constant, that’s why it’s so hard to lose a loved one, and that feeling of loss increases exponentially when there is no hope of an afterlife. 
Death holds power over us, and the reason it does, is because of our own sin. But what happens when the power of death is broken? When sin has been defeated on the cross?
Sin and death no longer have mastery, they no longer hold power. I have watched many Christians face death with the attitude of, let’s get it over with, I want to be with my Jesus. One lady I knew named Mary, told her family to stop praying for her so that she could go to heaven.

Jesus beat sin on the cross, and when he raised from the dead, he beat death as well.

But we can know this and still struggle with insanity. In fact, that insane quote from Paul that I read to you earlier comes in chapter 7 verse 15 of Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Then in the second half of verse 18 and into 19 he says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Even though sin was defeated on the cross, even though death was defeated at the resurrection, you and I still return again and again to sin’s chains. Paul says in chapter 6 verse 16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
So the first result of Jesus’ victory, is that death and sin no longer has power, because Jesus broke it through the cross and resurrection. But, we give it back power in our lives by returning to the sinful things. We can put ourselves back into the chains of sin, but even when we do, it still has no power because of what Jesus did.

The second result of Jesus’ victory is this, we are free from sin’s power today. in verse 11 of chapter 6, Paul states, “11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

And it’s here that we tend to miss something in our Christian walk, we tend to focus on heaven, on the here-after. We sing songs like, I’ll Fly Away, and When We All Get to Heaven. None of which are bad, but they speak to our tendency to think that this defeat of sin and death happens when we pass into the next life. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 
“11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Jesus’ victory broke the power of sin and death in your life today. If you accept that you’re a sinner. Meaning, you recognize that you have failed to meet God’s perfect standard. That you have broken his perfect rule. If you have recognized that by breaking God’s perfection, even in the smallest spot, by telling a lie, or holding onto anger towards someone. If you recognize that, then you have accept that you’re a sinner. Then, you have to accept what Jesus’ did on your behalf on the cross. If you’re a sinner, then death can take you. Your death’s because a sinner cannot enter into heaven. A sinner cannot be with God. So God himself came to earth, and died in the place of every sinner. That’s why we started in verse 5 of chapter 6. Because, as Paul says, “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
By accepting what Jesus did on our behalf on the cross, we are united with him there. All the sin in our lives. The past sin we did, the sin we are doing now, and the sin we will commit in the future, every last one was defeated on the cross. And the power and the control it has on us was broken right there and then.
And when we accept these two realities, the victory that Jesus won on the cross and through the resurrection, is our victory too.

And that victory is in the here and now. That’s why Paul says in verse 12 of chapter 6, “12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
And in a few verse down from that in verse 17, Paul states this, “17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

And this is where we come back to our insanity definition. Remember, insanity is: “mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”

The fantasy that we return to is that sin still has power over us. That’s untrue, sin’s power was broken on the cross. The reality is that Jesus’ victory over sin, is ours as well. And we no longer have to be out of control and impulsive in our behavior, meaning we no longer haver to sin, because Jesus now has the control. 
But how, how do we stop being mad? How do we stop living by the sin that we have known for so long? That’s the question. How can we live in Jesus’ victory daily, and not have sin hold power over us?

In the next two weeks we’re going to cover both the inner struggle of thoughts and feelings, and the outer struggle of interacting with this world.

But I’m not going to leave you on a cliff hanger. Because I believe that there is one thing that we need to do before we get into dealing with the inner and outer struggles, and that’s what Paul writes starting in chapter 7 verse 24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

This is what we need to be able to say every time sin wants to take back control. “I am a sinner, but it is Jesus who broke sin’s control. So sin no longer controls me, Jesus does.”

We need to be able to internalize the victory that Jesus won. Recognizing that we do not hold the power over sin, Jesus does. We need to begin to start recognizing that, I need Jesus, not just to save me, but to live through me. This is why Paul ends his thoughts like this in verse 12 of chapter 8, “12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

We need to realize we cannot beat sin. We did not beat it on the cross apart from Jesus, and we cannot overcome it in our daily lives apart from Jesus.

When we recognize and begin to live this reality out, the madness lesses, because Jesus is returning sanity to us, by his Spirit living through us.

So this is my challenge for you this week, to make the follow words a prayer: “I am a sinner, but Jesus broke sin’s control. Jesus live through me.”

Write it down on a piece of paper and keep that paper with you, and when sin comes to take control, take the paper out, repeat the words, and then go to God in prayer asking him for the strength to over come sin in your life.

And next week, we’ll continue looking into Romans, to see some concrete applications to overcome sin.

Now when sin coms knocking at your mind, and your heart, may you recognize your inability to be the victor, and trust God to bring victory into your life. Amen

Monday, April 2, 2018

Remembering the Past to Trust for Today

Have you heard the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?” That was written by philosopher George Santayana around 1905. The younger someone is, the less this statement seems to apply. Children have no concept of time, relegating a week ago to yesterday. Our littlest one does this a lot. Thinking something that happened last week, happened yesterday, or a little while ago. To which our oldest very clearly corrects her that it was in fact last week.
But as we get older we either learn this lesson of learning from our past, or as the axiom goes, we repeat it. And it seems like our society is doing just that at the moment. Repainting old failed ideas for a modern setting, and on track to repeat the same disasters. After I became a Christian this is one area of my life that I wanted to not fail in. It was an area that I spent many hours in prayer, and still do today, asking God to teach me from where I fail so I do not repeat the same failures again. Another quote, most often attributed to Einstein says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

These sayings are invaluable if we want to better understand what God’s word has for us today. We are going to be diving into Mark chapter 5 starting in verse 21. And as we do, I want to give us a little recap on what has led us to this point.
Starting in chapter 4 of Mark we began to see a shift in Jesus’ teaching ministry. Up until that point Jesus was pretty straightforward with his teachings, with him focusing on who he was and why he came. In chapter 4 we saw the disciples begin to understand what Jesus required of them, and they began to take an active role in his work. It’s at this time that Jesus began to teach heavily with parables. These stories with contrasting points were meant to hide truth from people. The reason for this was to either encourage people to seek out the truth by getting more teaching, or discourage people that were just there for the miracles Jesus provided.
Then we read four parables that were to help the disciples understand their roles within the Kingdom of God. The disciples were to understand that they needed to be good soil, so the word could grow in their lives. Then they needed to understand that their job was to share what God had done in their life with others, and through that they would grow more. Next, their job was to share, and it was God’s job to take that seed planted and grow it. We simply plant, and need to allow God to do his work in people’s lives. Finally, It doesn’t matter how small that seed we plant is, God can grow it into something enormous.
With these four teachings relayed to the disciples, we see these disciples challenged in their faith. With a storm that they knew could kill them, they learned that Jesus was not who they thought he was. In fact, their realization that they didn’t actually know who Jesus, terrified them. That leads us into another group who was terrified of Jesus. This happened after Jesus exorcised a demon out of a man that was a plague of the country side. And instead of embracing Jesus as a Savior, the people dismissed him because of his power. But what we saw was that the man, who had been freed of the demon, was sent out as a missionary to his people. The disciples were still learning, what this man had come to realize, Jesus was the Savior.
This brings us to where we are in Mark chapter 5 verse 21. So if you have your Bibles, we’ll be picking up in verse 21 today.

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
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 my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘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.”
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

That was a lot of verses to read, but what we’re trying to do on Sunday mornings is to understand the overarching teaching of Scripture and how one event influences the next. And these two stories are combine for a purpose.

This whole situation starts off with a desperate father coming to Jesus, seeking his help for his dying daughter. This man is not just any person, he is the administrator of the local synagogue, a prominent figure in his town. This man, probably wasn’t rich, but he was well respected and was probably well off for his area. But coming to Jesus, someone who is at the very least not on good terms with the religious ruling party, could send all of that respect, all of that prominence out the window. But this man doesn’t care, his little girl is on her death bed and he is desperate.
And I think any of us would throw everything we had away for our child’s life, wouldn’t we? And this man was at the point were his only option was to trust in the rumors he had heard of Jesus. Rumors that had spread hundreds of miles away, and the man who everyone was talking about had entered his town, what else could he do, but desperately seek this healer?
Jesus accepts Jairus’ plea and goes to meet the little girl. Along the way, Jesus became inundated with people clamoring for him. To heal them, and to fix their problems. And as Jesus is pushed and pulled in so many ways, a diseased women makes her way through the crowd, thinking all she needs is a mere touch of Jesus’ clothes to be healed. She is not seeking anything, but an indirect contact with the healer. 
Now we don’t know what type of disease she had, possibly a tumor. But from the physician Luke in his account of this situation, he know that it was an incurable ailment. But low and behold, that indirect contact with Jesus did heal her, but what happened next was not what she expected.
Jesus knew that the healing had occurred. Jesus knew that something was different. With the crowd swarming him, being pushed and pulled in every direction. People yelling and calling out to each other. In the midst of this chaotic scene, something had happened. But only two people knew about. Everyone else was oblivious to the miracle.
And this is how I picture it. Jesus starts looking around for the person, asking a question to which he already knew the answer. Then people start backing away. Is he angry? They might be thinking. Could he call his great power down on us? Then the women presents herself in fear and trembling before Jesus. Not knowing if she had taken what did not belong to her. Her fear gripping her, maybe the thought of, will he take back my healing, crossed her mind. I could see the disciple recognizing her fear, because it was that same fear that gripped them in the boat. It was that same fear that gripped the people when they saw the possessed man healed.
Then Jesus looks at her, the crowd feeling her pain, and fear. And he says these words to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

These words speaks to the women understanding who Jesus was. Just like the demon possessed man understood who Jesus was. Jesus told her that she had placed her faith in the correct place. And because of that, not only was she healed, but she had gained something even greater. Jesus tells her your faith has healed you, this word healed, means to save. It is the same word that is used elsewhere to talk about salvation. This women put her trust into Jesus as her Savior, both of her physical body, and her spiritual life. And now she was truly free from her suffering, with no condemnation from Jesus, only blessing.
Can you imagine her fear leaving her in that moment? To know that you are no longer bound to suffering, both in this life and in the one to come?

But while all this was happening, these moments had taken their toll, because even as Jesus was speaking these words of freedom to this women, people had arrived to give the heart-breaking news about the girl.
In my mind, I wonder what thoughts passed through the mind of the father. I would have been thinking, “if Jesus didn’t take his time with this women, my daughter would have been saved.” And it’s almost as if Jesus understood the thoughts that could be creeping into the father’s mind, because Jesus turns and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
The fear the disciples felt in the boat, the fear that the people felt after seeing Jesus cleans a man of a demon, and the fear of the woman after Jesus asked who touched him, all these fears were unfounded, because Jesus was there. And now, Jesus was relaying to this father, to not fear, but to trust. Trust that his faith in Jesus was not unfounded, just as the women’s faith was not unfounded.
They arrive at the house, with people already mourning the death of the little girl. These people knew what death was like. They had seen it time and time again. They knew the coldness that came upon a person after life had left their body. But Jesus would have none of it. The Creator was walking among them, and he understood what could and could not be done. So he shuts all the mocking people out. He brings three of his closest disciples in, with the mother and the father.
Taking the girl’s hand Jesus gives a command. In ancient times healers would come and say things like, "Arise from your disease”, which better translated would be more like, ”I wish you would arise.” But Jesus says two words, “Talitha koum!” “Child arise.” It was a command from the Creator to his creation. And the creation responded. The girl got up, walked around, and ate. She was not merely back from the dead, but her health was fully restored.

Two stories of full restoration. Two stories of fear being swept away for joy. Two stories of trust in Jesus tested.

I can imagine the woman, twelve years of suffering possibly falling into depression believing that she would die from her disease.
I can imagine the father, looking at his twelve year old girl dying before his eyes, with no ability to stop it.
Both had sought the doctors of their time, both finding that no one could help them.
Then both hearing of Jesus and his mighty power. One sought Jesus to come and heal his daughter, the other sought to merely have an indirect touch of Jesus. While Jesus was dealing with the lady, the girl died.
Fear had overtaken the woman, her healing on the line. Fear had overtaken the father, his daughter had died.
But it was trust, trust in Jesus that both had. And because of this trust, both experienced Jesus’ saving work that day. And all the while the disciples were watching all of it unfold. From a storm, to a demon, to an incurable disease, to a life restored, they were watching all of it unfold. And they were learning who this Jesus was. They were learning from each experience that Jesus wasn’t just another Rabbi, another teacher, or healer. He was much, much more.

Our experience of God today, can sometimes be stunted by our not trusting in his previous acts. The father could have given up on Jesus, when he heard the news of his daughter’s death. I mean, there had only been one other resurrection recorded in the Scriptures prior to this. And that was hundreds of years prior. But Jesus’ words, “Don’t be afraid; just believe,” spoke of the fear that the woman had, that was unfounded, and her trust in Jesus. And that trust is what the father needed now, trust that he had put his faith in the right person.
We must be like the father, we must be like Jairus. Watching the work of Jesus, learning what he is capable of doing. We need to open our eyes and see what God has done throughout the centuries, and what he is doing right now around us. If we are unwilling to trust what God has done in the past, then we are in a position where we might not be able to see his work in us today.  If we are not willing to see the history of God’s working, how can we expect to see it when it happens to us?

Instead, God wants us to trust him in the present by remembering the past. We must take inventory of God’s works throughout history, throughout other’s lives, and throughout our own, so that we can better trust Jesus today, because of what he did yesterday.

Jairus’ daughter would have stayed dead, if he had not trusted Jesus in that moment. The woman was not merely there for her own benefit, but for the benefit of Jairus. More than likely, Jesus would not have reached the girl in time either way, but the interaction with this women gave Jairus an opportunity to learn that his trust in Jesus was not unfounded.
One of the parts I struggled with in this passage, had nothing to do with anything theological, but rather I kept asking the question, why is the age of the girl brought up? And I believe it is to help us connect the women with the girl. The interaction with the woman, being a part of the healing of the girl. Without the woman, it’s possible that Jairus doesn’t go through with his trust in Jesus. This woman suffered twelve years, the same amount of time as the little girl was alive.
This woman happens to get her healing at the same time, when Jesus is off to heal another. This interaction happens mere seconds before Jairus gets the news of his daughter’s death. All of it compiled together lets Jairus know, God is here, God is working, and all you need to do is trust Jesus.

And that’s what God is calling us to do. Look at all that God has done in the past. In history, in other’s people’s lives, and in our own. And he is calling us to trust. Trust him with what we’re going through now, because of what he has done before. 

Let us remember God’s past works, so that we are not condemned to missing out on his work for today.

My question today is will you trust Jesus with your current situation? With whatever you are going through, with whatever your family is going through, with whatever our country is going through, with whatever our world is going through, will you trust Jesus with it?

Here is my challenge for you this week. Come up with five things God has done. They can be in history, in other people’s lives, in your own life. Today, I gave you four things Jesus has done. Think of your own, write them down on a piece of paper, and every day this week I challenge you to go back to that paper and pray a simple prayer, “God keep me remembering what you have done, so I may trust you today.”
A simple prayer, for a day-to-day trust in Jesus.

Now may the Lord of yesterday’s victory, bring those victories to mind today, so that your trust in him continues to grow tomorrow. Amen.