When God Closes a Door...
One of our core values is that every person is called to serve.
That every follower of Jesus has a calling.
Spiritual Gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the body
A Heart for certain people, causes, or work
Abilities learned though life, work, and play
A distinct Personality
and Experiences that have prepared you uniquely
As a part of that goal we are doing our first SHAPE class,
SHAPE - June 26 - contrary to what you heard if you were at the newcomer lunch at 12:30. Lunch and childcare will be provided, and in that class we will help you identify those markers, and then schedule a time to sit down with a member of the team to go over your results and find a place where you can experience the joy of serving according to your fit for ministry.
New Life Group - Tuesdays starting June 14th - Location TBD
fun days next weekend - mens breakfast pushed one week back
PRAY BEFORE STARTING!!!
Trivia question this morning:
What do these phrases have in common:
God helps those who help themselves
God won’t give you more than you can bear
God works in mysterious ways
Cleanliness is next to godliness
They aren’t bible verses…but they are often treated like they are.
Today’s sermon title references another one.
When God closes a door…?
Really appropriate for today’s story from the life of Jesus…but not a biblical idea.
Sometimes God closes doors, or people, or circumstances…and God wants us to open them anyway.
Sometimes the door, closed or open, is on the wrong house. Going in becomes a very bad idea…especially through the window.
I think the intent of the idiom is to say when the direction you want to go is closed, look for the opportunity that isn’t. We need to go a little farther than the idiom to find wisdom, but that’s the way with idioms.
Once case where the idiom proved true was shortly after we moved in, Monica and I were out, the kids got home, realized they neglected to have their keys with them, and so did indeed find the door…that was the right door, closed to them.
That’s when we got a video of their ingenious work to get Josh on the roof and in through a window on the second floor.
Proving their ingenuity, and our need to increase security protocols.
As well as that They would do what was needed to be where they needed to be.
We desire fully transformed lives, our own and others. At least we know we should desire it. But week goes by after week and we don’t see it.
We want to see the power of God at work! I know we do. The response to the way the Holy Spirit moved on Easter Sunday told me that as a church we are longing for that to become a part of who we are, to see the Spirit active and transforming in the lives of people.
And I don’t think this is a new desire either…I think we know, as we read the stories in the gospels and Acts that the life of Jesus really is supposed to…CHANGE EVERYTHING…but we don’t see that power and transforming often.
Our tendency is then to settle in to what we feel we CAN expect. We build more comfortable expectations and even adapt our theology to fit them. Not consciously…subtly and over time.
What if we looked at this like my kids locked out of the house? What if we did what was needed to be where we need to be?
Today’s text shows us four young men who were desperate to see the power of God in the life of a friend. And they did what they needed to do. Here’s the set up:
Mark 2:1-4 CSB
“When he entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the word to them. They came to him bringing a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after digging through it, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying.”
They knew they HAD TO get their friend into the presence of Jesus. They climbed on the roof, flat and earthen.
They began to dig. Pulling off tiles, ripping through thatch and clay with their hands to create an opening.
Imagine the crowd under them! It’s too crowded to back up, so they are being showered with debris and wondering what on earth is happening!
They are working feverishly, they are disturbing others, they are boldly coming before Jesus…and they keep going. WHY?
because THAT is where the change could happen.
And as we’ll see…it does.
Let’s look at what happens in the presence of Jesus and then we can decide...
What are we willing to do to see the change happen? What are we willing to do to get:
In the presence of Jesus
In the presence of Jesus
The first thing we see might seem small…but it’s the biggest thing here:
Sins are Forgiven
Sins are Forgiven
They remove the roof, they lower the mat and now we get Jesus’ response.
Mark 2:5 CSB
“Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.””
I wonder about the immediate response to those words from the friends on the roof...
This isn’t why we vandalized this guy’s house...
But Jesus cuts to the heart of our deepest needs. He sees what we need above all else. And the deepest need of every heart is a relationship with the God who made them.
This man needed to know God’s love and his grace.
He did not come and earn forgiveness
He didn’t do enough good to outweigh the bad
He was merely in the presence of Jesus and Jesus did what he came to do! Restore men to their God.
Romans 3:21-26 CSB
“But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Apart from anything we can do! A right relationship from God has showed up, the way the law and prophets promised it would. Because all of us have earned death through our sin, through our rebellion we have denied God the glory that is rightly his. But his love for us was so great that he offers redemption through the death of Jesus, God in the flesh, taking our due to redeem anyone and everyone who places their faith in Jesus…who comes ready into his presence.
Jesus has not yet gone to the cross, but that is no issue to him. He looks at this young man laying helpless and declares him forgiven and restored to God because of the sacrifice that is coming when he goes to the cross.
Keep your eyes open as you go. Who needs this restoration? These men brought their friend out of their love for him. Who are those friends that need you to bring them into the presence of Jesus?
As his followers, our love is now supposed to extend beyond to everyone…Next time you sit down to eat, or you’re pumping gas, or at the store, look around and see these men and women who don’t even realize they have a need as deep as this paralytic on the mat.
What will we do to bring them into the presence of Jesus?
If we don’t…who will?
Not everyone in the room was impressed…Nobody has authority to do what he just did! A miracle is fine, but don’t go doing what people can’t do!
Jesus responds to them to. And puts his...
Authority on Display
Authority on Display
Mark 2:6-10 CSB
“But some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts: “Why does he speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Right away Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”
When we are in the presence of Jesus, it’s his authority, his agenda, his plan that rules.
These religious leaders, like us, have defined what makes for a good and right relationship with God. They have built their limits, and Jesus doesn’t fit them.
I wonder how often we inadvertently do this to the Holy Spirit? He is all ready to move, but we use our authority to keep him where we want him. As a force, an idea, not as a person with a will.
Earlier this week I shared a quote with our leadership team that really hit me on these lines from RA Torrey, an evangelist of the late 19th century:
“If you think of the Holy Spirit as a mere influence or power, then our thought will constantly be, ‘How can I get hold of the Holy Spirit and use it?’ But, if you think of Him in the biblical way, as a person of divine majesty and glory, your thought will be ‘how can the Holy Spirit get hold of me and use me?”
If we are going to enter the presence of Jesus in an authentic way, we have to come knowing that it is He who decides what’s going down. It is the Holy Spirit that dictates what is about to be done.
The Pharisees were livid that Jesus had the nerve to claim authority to forgive sins. That is for God alone, and they were not going to accept that this man before them came with God’s authority and power.
The question Jesus asks is funny. “Which is easier?”
Healing or forgiveness. There is no way they could know how difficult and how high the cost of forgiveness would be. Easier to say you are forgiven…not easier done.
Easier to say, because the results aren’t visible and measurable to the human eye. If Jesus said “Get up” and he didn’t…it’s easy to dismiss him.
But how can they know if his sins are really forgiven?
So Jesus puts his authority on display. “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth”… What did he really want them to know he had authority to do? heal? No… “To forgive sins”
What comes next, is intentionally designed to force them to reckon with his authority over sin. They have expressed their doubt, here’s his rebuttal.
Before we move on the conclusion of this event, I want us to ask a question of ourselves. As individuals and as a church: Do we want the authority of Jesus to be OUR authority? Careful answering this one. Know what you are getting in for.
When Jesus is in authority, he wants it all.
To follow Jesus means to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, to lay down our lives, to give up all we hold dear to pick up all HE holds dear.
The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who begin well in making God their Lord…but when God’s way and their way come into dispute…they choose theirs. They trust themselves more than him. They believe their feelings and opinions more than they trust God’s goodness.
So do you…do we really want the authority of Jesus to direct us here? In our lives? In our church? Because he will lead us where we aren’t comfortable, he will lead us through and against our fears.
I want us to take a bold step here. If you are committed to that course, will you pray with me here and now a prayer of surrender? I am going to pray to that effect and ask that if you are in that number, that you would repeat after me loud and boldly in that prayer.
Lord Jesus we Love you
Because you first loved us
We recognize that all authority is yours
You are worthy to receive all honor, glory, and praise
We confess that too often we have sat on your throne
We confess that we have limited your Holy Spirit
We thank you for your grace given at the cross
This day we surrender to your authority in our lives
we surrender to your authority in this church
We invite the Holy Spirit to use us to do your work
We commit to following Jesus wherever he will lead
Can I encourage you to think on that beyond this morning, to keep seeking. To notice the places where you choose not to follow and pray this prayer again.
He is worthy. The authority is his. And we want to do whatever it takes to be in his presence.
And when we are in the presence of Jesus, he shows his authority, sins are forgiven and
Lives. are. Transformed.
Lives. are. Transformed.
Jesus makes his declaration to the Pharisees of his authority then turns back to the man on the mat:
Mark 2:10-11 CSB
“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he told the paralytic— “I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.””
And you can guess what happened:
Mark 2:12 CSB
“Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!””
That word, “Astounded”. The Greek word is the one that gave us the word, “Ecstasy” or “exultation”, “exalted”...
They were overwhelmed emotionally by what they had witnessed.
The Pharisees turn it to anger, but the crowd knows what they just saw and are moved.
That’s what we experienced on Easter. I spoke with so many of you who were moved, emotional, impacted by what God was doing.
But no one in the audience was moved like those involved. I got to see their faces up close.
For as astonished as the crowd was…what do you think it was like for the men on the roof? Think they were ever the same? Think they ever regretted getting their fingers dirty and worn with the effort of getting into the presence of Jesus?
They did what they needed to do to get where they needed to be.
The record tells us that what Jesus did…he did in response to “THEIR faith”. “Seeing THEIR FAITH, Jesus told the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven.
If we want to see the Kingdom come and his will be done here, we have to have the faith of these men who were willing to climb on a roof and start digging, to do what is needed to get where we need to be.
In the presence of Jesus.
We did that in our prayer today. But that was just getting onto the roof.
The question for each of us is what is our commitment to doing that kind of work in prayer? That’s where we get our fingers dirty. That’s where our hands and knees will be worn out if we are really willing to dig in.
Will we get into our bibles this week, seeking to know God more deeply and follow Jesus fully?
Will we come into church next Sunday with a sense of expectancy because we have spent the week digging holes in the roof, doing the work of bringing our community, our church, our friends, and our own hearts into the presence of Jesus?
Will we live like those who have had our sins forgiven by God’s great grace? extending forgiveness and love to those who have harmed us?
Will we find our place of ministry in the body because we are committed to following Jesus with all we are and have?
Will we steward our time, talents, and treasure as if they all belong to Jesus?
Will we do what is needed, to get where we need to be?
Today our prayer team will be up here ready to pray with you. Come with burdens and praises, come with commitments...to do the work of digging.